Ammo is about preference

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In the hand load versus store-bought ammunition debate, it all comes down to preference, said Jules Palyo, owner of Pack Country Outfitters in Oak Creek.

"And it all comes down to time," he said. "Most people get store bought, because a lot of guys don't have the time to invest in hand loading."

Only about 10 percent of his clients use hand loads, but they don't always know enough about the procedure to do it right.

"The guys who do hand loading, they're not quite as effective," Palyo said, "because they don't have time to really study it so they don't get consistent results."

He said for occasional shooters, manufactured ammunition gives consistent accuracy. Hunters who shoot every weekend can perfect their techniques for their guns.

"They can have more power in a load," he said.

Hand loading can be more cost effective, if it is done often enough, but there are some up-front charges for equipment.

Dies shape the shell, and they are specific to each caliber of gun. Then there are bullets, shells, powder and primer to purchase.

"To offset that cost, you have to shoot a lot," Palyo said.

Joe Herod, owner of Craig Sports, said he sells an equal amount of hand load and manufactured ammunition, but most hunters visiting the area stick to store-bought rounds so they do not have to buy all the equipment.

But those who do make their own rounds save money and really like to make sure they are doing it right.

"These guys are perfectionists," Herod said.

Many pride themselves on hitting the same spot on a target repeatedly, and that's something Palyo thinks is very important, particularly when elk hunting.

"Shot placement is absolutely critical," he said. "You need to hit it right behind the shoulder."

That's why he thinks using store-bought ammunition is a good idea for infrequent hunters. Rounds come in a variety of qualities and give different results.

"You want each load to fire exactly the same," Palyo said. "You get what you pay for."

He thinks hand loads are a good idea, if the hunter is willing to invest in the equipment and effort necessary to do it well.

"It's all about time and dedication," Palyo said, "if that's something you really want to do."

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