Beginning to Reload Advice On Buying Ammo
Written by: Bob Shell
Wow!You went to the local gun shop to buy some practice ammo and it went up a couple of dollars since you bought the last box a month or two ago. You have what is known as sticker shock. Welcome to reality. Gosh, you want to shoot your favorite handgun but with everything going up including gas you wonder how much longer you can afford to shoot. You have a decent 9 to 5 job but with all the necessities of life going up you have to do something. No shooting is not an option in your view. You go home and you want to figure out a way to shoot as much without taking a second mortgage on the house. With gas and food sharply increasing how can you buy enough ammo to practice before you go off on that hunt. The kids need school clothes, car insurance has to be paid and the little lady needs some new clothes. It just piles up. Recently I went into several large sporting goods stores to see what the price of ammo was. I got sticker shock also! Since I reload everything that I shoot a visit to a gun store is rare for me. Good hunting ammo was through the roof although some of the generic wasn’t too bad considering. Another problem is lack of availability of ammo. With the buying craze that has been going on more often than not the shelves are bare. Things are starting to get better but depending on politics, it could get worse again. The other problem is hoarding. Some people buy a ridiculous amount of ammo or components and stash it in the basement. Some are finding how foolish that is because now that things are becoming available again prices are starting to drop. So the guy that spent top dollars to and now finds out he lost a lot of cash. Therefore, he gets in a money pinch he may be obligated to sell his stash at a loss. I have no sympathy for those folks as they cause a lot of inconvenience to the rest of the shooters. For reasons known only to them, the US Government bought up many millions of rounds of ammo. That took away from civilians buying that type of ammo. One unfortunate byproduct is a lot of the semi obsolete rounds and bullets have been dropped as everyone is focusing on the real common ammo. Casualties include but are not limited to the 30 Remington, 25-20, 35 Remington, and other similar rounds. There are a lot of guns out there that use those rounds but ammo is difficult to find and usually expensive. Reloading your own will help alleviate that situation.
You should buy at least one loading manual preferably a couple and read them thoroughly. It is important to do some reading as well as the actual reloading procedures.
The books will go into some detail on what equipment to get as well as the basic procedures. There are some dos and don’ts in the books that should be adhered to. Failure to follow safety rules can result in anything from ammo that won’t chamber to a destroyed gun. Prices vary on the tools required starting at about $25 for a hand kit to hundreds for more sophisticated equipment. You need a press, set of dies, measure, and scales to start off. There are a few other things such as case lube and various gadgets and gizmos that you will acquire. I would advise to buy the best single stage press you can afford because it will give you more leverage and durability then a small press. That is especially important if you load rifle calibers. Some companies such as Huntington Die and Hornady offer package deals that include everything needed to load one caliber. I suggest that you give them serious consideration. The reloader has it good, as the selection of tools is extensive. There is something for everyone. I advise against starting with a progressive press though while they are faster there are several things going on at once and to an inexperienced reloader that would enhance the possibility of something going wrong and you missing it.
Once you have a clear understanding of the processes and problems then by all means get that progressive if you need it. It’s not a bad idea to get an experienced buddy to help you set it up and show you how to set the dies which is very critical to the quality of your ammo. You need to pay attention to detail and be patient a point I can’t emphasize too strongly. If you lack those qualities, you might want to rethink your position on rolling your own. Sloppy work and shortcuts will get you nothing but inferior ammo. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Get a notebook and take notes and write down the loads both good and bad. The reason for listing your bad loads is so you don’t repeat them. Keep your targets for future reference and perhaps bragging rights. It doesn’t hurt to buy an inexpensive chronograph. That way you can check the velocity and consistency of your loads. Take your time and learn to do it right and you will have many hours of enjoyable shooting. Another thing is to avoid distractions while loading. Talking on the phone or some other activity will result in you missing something and producing inferior and possibly dangerous ammo. Leave your cell phone in the other room. Texting while reloading is like doing it while you drive. Nothing good will come out of it.
Once you get going you will see the advantages. First of all is the cost. You can buy bulk bullets plus powder and primers for a fraction of the cost of a box of factory fodder. Let’s take the 30-06 for instance. If you look around you can buy a thousand bullets for about a C note. Powder can be bought in 8 lb kegs and primers in sleeves of 5000. Add these together and you can load a box of 30-06 for about $4. That beats twenty some dollars any day of the week. You and a couple of your friends can go in together to share the cost further reducing the cost. You should buy as large quantity of components as possible to keep the costs low. The quality will equal the factory loads if you did your part properly. With that savings you can go out and practice from various positions and get proficient enough to bag your game under reasonable circumstances. Another thought is do you have youngsters that want to learn how to hunt and shoot? Most youngsters are eager to learn and that is true with both genders. Did you ever see how fast a couple of kids can go through ammo? Teach them the basics of reloading and they will appreciate hunting and shooting all the more. Everyone should encourage youngsters to shoot after all they are the future of the sport. If you decide to go into any competition unless you are very wealthy handloading is the only way you can afford it.
There are many aspects of reloading and as you progress there are several facets that are hobbies in themselves. Some examples are casting and swaging bullets and case forming. As time goes by I will get into those subjects and anything else that will help the handloader craft good quality ammo.
Bob Shell E-mail email@example.com
Contributor to Handguns Magazine
Contributor to Guns Australia
Contributor to American Shooting Journal
Various Harris Publications
Contributor to Canadian Firearms Journal
Guest on Gun Talk Radio Shows
Life Member NRA & NAHC