Trying to decide whether to buy reloading brass or loaded bullets will depend on several factors, not the least of which is cost. Cost is certainly an important factor, but there are both short-term and long-term costs which will need to be considered. Most shooters know that reloading is less expensive in the long run than buying new ammunition every time, but reloading is not the answer for everyone.
Both brass and bullets can be bought in bulk, but it is much easier and cheaper to buy brass in bulk. Most of us cannot afford to drop the cash needed to buy 5,000 rounds of a particular caliber regardless of the amount of shooting we do, and many large bulk sales of ammunition are only done to dealers, ranges or agencies. On the other hand, almost anyone can purchase several thousand brass casings (even a 55-gallon drum full of them) at a much lower price than the cost of a comparable amount of loaded bullets.
Some shooters are convinced that reloading provides them with a more accurate round than if they had purchased ready-made bullets. This is true in many cases, as ammunition manufacturers have to make bullets that are able to fit several brands of firearms and magazines, as well as stick to specific safety standards. Hence, a particular performance or velocity may not be reached with commercially-available ammunition as it is with a reloaded round. Those dissatisfied with commercial ammunition will tend to want to reload so that they may experiment with various components until they have a bullet that they prefer.
A reloaded round is not subject to the same safety standards as is factory ammunition. Buying a 50-round box of reloads from “Lucky Pete down the street” might not be so lucky if Pete has no idea how much powder he put in or never saw the quarter-inch long crack in the case. Reloading requires the acquisition of knowledge as well as components and equipment; there are some dealers who provide quality guarantees in buying reloading brass, but it is still up to the reloader to ensure that the ammunition made is safe enough to use without damaging the firearm or harming the shooter. That is the reason many shooters will never use a reloaded round unless they reloaded it themselves. Safety, accuracy and cost are three primary differences to be considered when deciding between buying reloading brass and buying factory-loaded bullets.