Cartridge Reloading Dollars and Cents, by R.S.O. in Arizona

While we are all preparing for something most of us are not financially secure there for we must stretch our Dollars as long as we have them as a form of currency. 

Here in falls the concept of reloading your own ammunition.  Because face it we need to practice and we need to store for when the supply runs out.  Let’s start by doing a little math, Ammo 9mm Luger Winchester USA 115 Grain FMJ 1190 fps 100 Round Box $21.11 x 10 = $211.10 bought online.  Now let’s order the individual component parts online and see how much we save Winchester Bulk Bullets 9mm 115 grain FMJRN = $105.10, Winchester Small Pistol Primers 1,000 = $29.95, Powder 1 pound about $20.00, Winchester Bulk Brass 9mm = $176.30.  Ok total to load your own 1000 rounds of 115 Grain FMJ = $331.35 now you’re saying to yourself that’s $120.25 more than if I just bought it already loaded there’s no savings to heck with this idea right?  Wrong!  Take a look around next time you go to the range or your favorite outdoor shooting spot how much 9mm brass is just laying around.  LOTS and LOTS all you have to do is pick it up, and as for the powder on average you can load 1200 to 1400 rounds of ammo with just 1 pound.  Hmmm, so let’s take just the price of brass $176.30 out of the equation that will leave us with a grand total of $155.05 for 1,000 rounds of loaded ammo that is a savings of $56.05 or roughly 27%.  Greater savings can be had by buying plated and lead bullets. (If you shoot a handgun with a Polygonal rifling such as a Glock DO NOT USE unjacketed lead bullets!)

I think if you have made it this far into the article you are now saying to yourself but the equipment is expensive.  This statement is true for the most part however there are many different manufactures to choose from thus making it a matter of figuring out how fast you want to load your 1000 rounds.  You can get a RCBS ROCK CHUCKER SUPREME PRESS you will need to buy Dies (single stage) for MSRP $ 202.95, or a Lee Breech Lock Challenger Press you will need to buy Dies (single stage) for MSRP $94.00 or a Lee PRO 1000 9MM LUGER (progressive press includes Dies) for MSRP $254.00. Another option is the Dillon Square Deal ‘B’ (progressive press includes Dies will not load Rifle ammo) for MSRP $379.95 or the Dillon RL550B you will need to buy Dies (progressive press loads Rifle ammo) for MSRP $439.95.  I can go on and find all the presses that are available and put prices in here but then I might as well just open a store and sell the stuff too. (Note to self, find investor open store)  Ok do some more research on your own talk to friends other people at the range find out what they like and WHY.  Before we get too much further I am not employed by nor do I receive any kickbacks from any of the above mentioned Manufactures, however I was at one time employed by Dillon Precision.  Yes I do like there products I have used them for over 10 years and the Lifetime “No-B.S.” Warranty is great!  Links to some key manufacturers mentioned are listed at the bottom of this article.

You will need to buy Reloading Dies for most of the machines listed.  The Dies range in price from about $29.95 to $63.95 depending on which company you go with.  If you by a Lee reloader and Dillon Dies you may need to buy 1 more Die for the system to work correctly and yet if you buy a Dillon machine and Lee Dies you may not use 1 of the Dies. My strong recommendation is to use Dies made by the same company that made your Reloader.

Most of the companies also have some sort of case prep Deals (i.e. Starter Kits) these kits should include a Scale that weighs in Grains (the industry standard unit of measure), a case tumbler (the thing that cleans the brass), media (the actual cleaning material), a bottle of polish (so the brass is shiny again), a set of dial calipers (used to measure the dimensions throughout the loading process), and a Reloading manual (this is where we find all the data needed to make SAFE ammo).  On a side note your-cousins-sisters-boyfriend once used X amount of powder Y on a ### grain bullet will cause you to BLOW UP your GUN, HAND, FACE, and other things you DO NOT want to BLOW UP!!!  If someone gives you a recipe for a load look it up in a RELOADING manual before ever trying.  Your Best friend in reloading is your RELOADING Manuel get lots of them cross reference them with each other if it’s not in a book DO NOT TRY IT!!  Most powder manufactures put out FREE manuals every year or so. BUY multiple Manuals from different manufactures they are worth it, lots of research has gone into them so you will not hurt yourself.

Your initial investment will be around $1,000 for one caliber this is a lot of money.  However if money is no longer good for anything other than fire starter then having it will do you no good. Invest in Heavy Metals (lead) keep a comfortable amount on hand.  Set a minimum and maximum number of loaded rounds that you want to keep on hand then set a minimum number of projectiles, primers, and pounds of powder that you want as your supply.  Remember that powder and primers are the only parts of the ammo that may go bad if not stored properly or for too long.  Powder should be bought and rotated often if you buy 2 pounds every time you stock up use 1 from your old supply and put the 2 new ones into your reserve.  Then the next time you buy powder use the ones on the shelf to load and put the new ones in their place on the shelf.  This practice is much like rotating your stored food. 

Loading rifle ammo is a little more complex than handgun ammo but the primary principles are the same with a few added steps.  Rifle brass has to be identified as boxer or Berdan primed, brass cased or steal case.  The Berdan cases have two off-center flash holes and are difficult to de-prime because of this without special Berdan tools and very time consuming.  I have heard of steel cases being reloaded however I strongly recommend against it due to the case being more rigid than brass and possibly having unseen cracks that would cause a catastrophic failure.

The principal steps of reloading handgun ammo.  You will start by acquiring your brass, and then separate it by caliber.  The next step in the process is to clean and polish it this is accomplished by using a tumbler and a medium such as crushed corn cob or crushed walnut shells and adding in a polishing compound.  The polishing compound is not necessary but it does make the brass look almost new again.  Step number three is to separate the media from the brass.  In step four you will start the transformation from fired case to loaded ammo by sizing the brass using hopefully a carbide re-sizer for the appropriate caliber being loaded.  If not you will have to lubricate the brass before sizing.  In step five you will be flaring the case mouth, this makes it easier to insert and seat the projectile.  Step six is adding the proper amount of gun powder for the chosen load.  Be very careful to not over or under charge the load this too can cause a catastrophic failure.  In step seven you will be placing the projectile in to the top of the case so that the properly adjusted bullet seating Die will press the projectile into the case.  Step eight is to crimp the brass and remove the bell from the case mouth, so that the bullet will be held securely.  This will keep the projectile from being pushed back into the case in a semi-automatic handgun or shaken loose in a revolver.  Step nine in this process is to use your micrometer to check the overall dimensions of the loaded round.  The best part of this process is finally here you’ve made several small batches with different powder weights.  You’ve placed them in separate containers and labeled them accordingly, you now need your reloading log book (this is just a notebook that you keep) with the load data entered onto different pages the only thing missing is in the results section.  Now it’s time to go to the range and find out which batch works best in your gun or guns. Don’t forget to enter your results!

The difference between rifle and handgun ammo reloading comes at the beginning of the case preparation.  Rifle brass will need to be measured prior to loading if it is too long you will need to trim it to within the specifications listed in your loading manual.

The reason to reload is so you will be able to resupply yourself and your group with quality low cost ammunition for training and during a SHTF scenario the ability to stay in the fight.

I hope this article has given something to think about and give you another option for procuring one of the three primary supply that are needed in TEOTWAWKI: Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids you can never have enough.  As always stay alert and Prepare for the Worst and Pray for the Best.

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