Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest news items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor, JWR. Today, we look at investing in reloading components. (See the Tangibles Investing section.)

Precious Metals:

At Zero Hedge: “Everything Has Changed” – Gold Is At An All-Time High In 73 Countries

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Gold, Silver Up Amid Risk Aversion Worldwide

Economy & Finance:

Audio from Wolf Richter:  Fuel for the Next Mortgage Bust?

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Asia: How the world’s economic center of gravity is shifting.  The article’s tag line:  “Asia is on track to top 50 percent of global GDP by 2040 and drive 40 percent of the world’s consumption, representing a real shift in the world’s center of gravity.”

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Reader H.L. like this piece at Zero Hedge: Germany Stalls And Europe Craters

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Trade War Chaos Collapses Farm Equipment Sales Across Midwest

Commodities:

US Oil Production Holds Up Amid Rig Count Decline

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Germany’s Big Bet On Hydrogen.

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Nickel Proves It’s the Wildest Metal With Sudden $2,000 Spike

Stocks:

Australian stock market down 2.4% as US-China trade war hits home
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Avi Gilburt at Seeking AlphaSentiment Speaks: I Told You The Market Will Get Wild – Prepare To Be Whipsawed Again

Cryptos:

Bitcoin (BTC) Price At Risk Of More Downsides Below $11,200

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Bitcoin Cash Labeled a ‘Wounded Animal’ But BCH Could Still Surge 150%

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Bitcoin Is a Hedge Against US-China Trade War Fallout, Says Grayscale

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Ethereum Price (ETH) Near Inflection Point With Bearish Angle

Tangibles Investing (Reloading Components):

Blog reader “Au” wrote to ask:

“Looking ahead to the uncertainty around the 2020 election, I’m wondering whether I should stock up on factory ammo or if I should invest in reloading equipment.
I shoot 9mm and 5.56. I’m currently able to find 9mm practice ammo for below $0.20 a round and 5.56 practice ammo for under $0.30 per round. At those costs, reloading for anything but precision rifle competition is not cost effective. However, if ammo prices increase again as they did years ago, and if they do so at a rate greater than the increase in reloading components, reloading could become more attractive.

So which would you advise: stock up now on factory ammunition, or invest in reloading equipment?”

JWR Replies: Your point is well-taken. However, reloading is not for everyone.  It is time-consuming and requires close attention to detail.  It is ideal for folks who are retired, but younger people with full-time wage-paid or salaried jobs and kids to care for may find that they don’t have enough time available to reload. There is one other thing to consider in times of scarcity: All that it takes is an acute shortage of ONE component, and your other components will not be usable, in the short term. Folks found this out the hard way in the last ammo crisis, when several types of primers became very difficult to find. (In some cases, even harder to find than .22 rimfire ammo!) So if you decide to stock up, then stock up on all of the requisite components proportionally. (One primer, one projectile, and the equivalent of one measured quantity of powder for nearly every piece of brass.)  For most folks, buying factory-loaded ammo is probably the better approach, at present.

Provisos:

SurvivalBlog and its Editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for our detailed disclaimers.

News Tips:

Please send your economics and investing news tips to JWR. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who closely watch specific markets. If you spot any news that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers, then please send it in. News from local news outlets that is missed by the news wire services is especially appreciated. And it need not be just about commodities and precious metals. Thanks!




25 Comments

  1. Re: Reloading

    It is only cost effective after loading thousands of rounds, or if one needs precision ammuntion, or something specialized, like subsonic rounds,. MOA rounds are not needed for most of it. You can however get into the game, or cover that base, with Lee Handloader.
    If you do intend to shoot out to 500 yards and beyond, MOA accuracy is needed. And one can greatly improve the accuracy of a common bolt gun that you may already own, often enough to make it accurate out to 500. However, consider it a winter time project. I would only invest that kind of time, or money, if you have a defense plan that needs precision rifle fire to be effective. One can buy a precision rifle, and hope Federal Match ammo will do the job, or one can improve the accuracy of the rifle they already have by hand loading. Trying the Federal Match first in an existing rifle would be step 1.

  2. JWR…you are correct. Currently 5.56, 7.52, AK, etc.. is cheaper to buy factory currently then to go through the cash outlay of equipment, and components. Some factory pistol ammo is high ie.. 38 spl. Recommend getting a Dillon Square Deal B (roughly 300 – 400 rounds an hour so once set up it does not take much time to put out quality ammo) to load your pistol ammo. Both myself and my wife shoot every other week and we go through a lot of 9’s and 38’s. Makes it very economical (in the long run) to reload these calibers.

    1. This is an important article.

      I ran across an article today that helped me make sense of it all: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/05/the-invention-of-money

      Yes, it is from the New Yorker, leftie alert. Read the article for its own value. There are some very fine insights.

      Also, from the same issue, an article that helps me understand the human psyche and how to appeal to people:
      https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/05/what-p-t-barnum-understood-about-america

      Carry on

  3. In sixty years of reloading, I never had anything wear out. That, to me, means that buying good-used gear is better than brand-new-retail. The only caveat is the resizing die; it’s possible that some sort of abuse can have a bad one score the brass–but that’s easily determined.

  4. First of all, if you are serious, maybe one should consider stocking rounds AND reloading equipment and components. By no means an expert, but I love to hit what I’m aiming at. And every single firearm (every single firearm ~ emphasis added) is more accurate when loads are tailored to a particular weapon’s “sweet spot”.
    Aim small – hit small
    Hit what you’re aiming at – use less ammo
    With all the ammo saved – shoot more
    Practice Practice Practice

    JWR, “But there is a huge difference between keeping foreigners out, and a government keeping its own population in.”
    Beat that overlooked glaringly obvious drum. But be careful – any wall, physical or psychological, can do both depending on who’s in charge…

  5. I agree a little and disagree a lot more.

    I recently ran the cost of reloading 5.56 using todays prices for powder, primers, and bullets and I can reload a round for 22 cents. This is assuming you have the press and the brass. That is a generic 55gr FMJ Berry bullet using my Dillion RL650 press which puts out around 500 rounds per hour (without the 15 minutes to set it up). So I agree reloading generic 5.56 (and 9mm works in here too) is barely worth the time. But taking into account I would be using components I purchased about 10 years ago using my FIFO system, its way closer to, and probably less than 15 cents. From memory that powder was around $18 a pound where today it is around $30. I’m glad there is no inflation!

    But where I really disagree is the places where you would reload for a hunting rifle or long range varmint setup. Even on common calibers you will save half the price of factory ammo, say my 22-250 which I use on Prairie dogs, loaded with a 69 grain HPBT is around 50 cents a round ($10 a box) and you would pay over $20 off the shelf. IF you load Magnum hunting rounds like my 300 Weatherby, now I’m loading for a quarter of the cost of new.

    Also unless you enjoy shooting FMJ 9mm’s at your opponents, reloading hollow points for your pistols will save you about half over purchasing them.

    Add to that the ability to work up custom loads for your guns for maximum accuracy and I believe my reloading bench is one of my best preps.

  6. “For most folks, buying factory-loaded ammo is probably the better approach, at present.”

    This is true as long as it is “present”. In CA, you may no longer purchase ammo without a background check and a record kept of your purchases. Five years ago the price for some ammo went up 5X, and you sat in line in front of the store to purchase it (at least, I did). I chose to reload.

    I shoot between 2000-3000 rounds of 9mm and between 200-300 rounds of 5.56 each year, to maintain proficiency and just for the fun of it. Buying supplies on sale my practice 9mm rounds cost me .12 each, and my 5.56 cost .21 each (plus my time picking up used brass at the range, and in the shop reloading). Tunnel Rabbit is absolutely correct about the accuracy of handloads vs factory ammo. I was stunned when I first put a chronograph and a decibel meter on factory loads – they were all over the place in both speed and sound.

    Lastly, I have over the last 5 years picked up used reloading dies and equipment from craigslist and garage sales that enable me to reload most any caliber you might have. Barter item, anyone…

    1. Common ammo for a rifle and a pistol is a compromise that will usually leave one or the other falling short. Pistol cartridges are made for pistols. Unless you are willing to suffer the extreme recoil from the very powerful pistol cartridges, ie. .460 SW , 454 Casul etc. you will end up with a very under powered rifle with limited range and power. It is my humble opinion that you would be better served with 2 of the more common calibers. 9mm .45, .357 mag. for your pistol and then a .223, 7.62×39 or .308 for the rifle. The benefits of a rifle and a pistol that are of appropriate calibers far out weigh any benefit you may think you are getting from a compromise. The exception is if the common cartridge rifle and pistol are not your primary weapons and just for fun shooting. A thought to keep in mind is that the bad guy may pick the distance of engagement and you do not want to be throwing pistol bullets at him from 100 yards plus from either a rifle or pistol.

  7. Dose any one know how to totally stop Microsoft updates? For what I use my computer for they are totally unnecessary and often cause problems. I get my security from an other source so there is not much need for their interference in my life.

  8. RE: Ammunition Reloading.

    Capital investment to get into metallic cartridge reloading will be substantial: reloading press, die sets (for each caliber reloaded), shell holder(s), powder measure, scale, measurement calipers, brass cleaning mechanisms (either dry or wet brass polishers), reloading manuals (you’ll want several, usually one from each bullet manufacturer you intend to use), several different brands, types and quantities of powder on hand, primers, in small and large for both pistol and rifle, plus bullets in the proper caliber, grain weight and style, and a space where reloading can be done that allows paying full and complete atention to the task at hand. Shotgun shell reloading is a whole ‘nother issue.

    As Desertrat points out, with very few exceptions cartridge reloading equipment does not wear out so used equipment is very acceptable (estate sales are the best place to look).

    RE: ammunition cost – At the moment factory loaded ammunition is inexpensive and widely available. That was not true 2013-2015. During that period reloading components were also scarce and expensive. In “regular” economic times it is – usually – possible to reload ammunition at a lower per-round cost than factory ammunition. If you have the money, right now buying multiple cases of whatever ammunition you might need is probably the way to go.

    But….given sufficient societal distruption that will not be an option. Having the tools – and, most important, the knowledge and skills – to reload empty cases is an “assemblage of life skills” just like growing food, repairing machinery and vehicles, developing successful hunting skills, and so on. Having the ability to reload, even with basic equipment (even very, very basic equipment like a Lee Loader)and small quantities of consumables, may be the difference between having some ammunition or none.

    As JWR points out, you will need a FULL SET of components – empty cases, primers, powder, bullets – and not having any one of those blows up the entire deal. Among those, you will need the RIGHT powder – there are currently approximately 200 different powders available to reloaders, and they have different characteristics, burn rate being the most critical. Using a fast burning powder in a cartridge requiring a slower burning powder can very easily lead to catastrophe. (There are “workable but unauthorized” powder substitutions that can work but they’re not in the reloading manuals, nor published by anyone who understands liability, and ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR ANYONE WHO DOES NOT HAVE AN EXTREMELY HIGH DEGREE OF EXPERTISE IN RELOADING. I wouldn’t do them unless that was the only way to create functional ammunition during a severe crisis period but they can be done).

    I’d suggest – NOT RECOMMEND BUT ONLY SUGGEST – that preppers examine reloading and see if it may be feasible for their situation. It will cost real money to get the necessary equipment and supplies, and reloading ALWAYS requires one’s full and complete attention to the task at hand; reloading is not something to be done while watching TV or babysitting the 3-year old. Ammunition reloading is a complex task requiring unfailing devotion to the proper safety procedures AND a certain minimum level of knowledge and skill.

    The NRA has a course progam to teach metallic cartridge reolading (and, separately, shotshell reloading), Lyman and a few others publish good introductory manuals, reloaders as a group are quite willing to share info and tips, . A single stage press isn’t as fast or sexy as a semi-automated progressive press from Dillon, Hornady or others, but not only does it work, it was used by thousands of reloaders for decades.

    Reloading isn’t for everyone. Take a look at it and see if it’s suitable for you and your situation.

  9. I think a nice compromise on reloading vs purchasing new is to purchase new and have the supplies to reload all the new after you have shot it.

    That said, pistol reloading saves a lot of money while rifle reloading does not save as much. My pistol reloads often come in at 1/4 the price of new. My rifle reloads come in at not far from cut rate new prices for cheap ammunition but my reloading components are premium IMO. If you buy new with the same components I use I think you would be close to double the price.

    It is time consuming though.

    1. Shooting military grade 175 grain .308 can cost more than 1.05 a round. I can build them for .35 cents. I do keep some of the military stuff on the shelf for a rainy day. But for practice, I build it, it’s much cheaper.

  10. It was 2 am last night, when I was posting. I prefer staying out of range, so advocate long range accuracy. Another option, is to use a bolt gun that uses common caliber ammunition that is typically less expensive, that has a reputation for accuracy, and purchase a number of brands of ammunition to see what you rifle shoots best.

    1. How low can we go given current prices, 2019?

      https://www.amazon.com/LEE-PRECISION-90248-Springfield-Classic/dp/B00162UIWQ?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00162UIWQ

      Lee Classic Handloader. $36.00

      Redding Powder measure, used, $10.00, Kalispell gunshow

      Bag of 100, LC Match Grade .30-06 brass, $10.00 at Kalispell gunshow ( I bot more than 1) (no primer pocket crimp, other wise the same as ordinary LC brass)

      Bag’o Boolits, 100 ea., SST, 180 grain, $35.00, internet

      1 pound of H4350, $35.00, local

      Box of 100 primers, $4.00, local

      Calipers, $25.00?

      Deburring tool, $5.00

      Total investment, $165.00 * if something was forgotten, it ain’t much)

      A novice handloader can make precision rounds with this combination of items, and the correct amount of powder. I did this with my first batch of loads as a ‘well read’ novice, and the results were just over MOA in an 80 year old Mauser. Cases should be weighed, and be no more than 3 grains difference in weight for best results. Heavier cases can be segregated ideally, and power lightly reduced, or the same, but segregated as a group and used together. It is about consistency. It does not have to be MOA, but close to it is good enough for 500 yards. Use the ‘ladder’ method to develop the load, and settle in the middle to account for temperature variations. Closely follow the method from a reloading book, such as the old Hornady’s 6th edition. The following 100 rounds will not include the price of the equipment, and then be cost effective. However, at $1.65/ round for premium ammunition that is custom made, and precision ammunition in you rifle, I would say is already cost effective, especially if I can protect my family from beyond 300 yards, out of the range of most shooters.

  11. No offense intended to the reloaders of the world, but my shooting buddies and I have been out to Wyoming to shoot prairie dogs. We routinely got hits between 400-600 yards with 20 inch barreled ARs shooting a wide variety of ammo from cheap Tula to higher end Hornady “varmint” loads. No one needs to invest in “precision” hand loads to extract 300 yard plus performance out of a bolt gun or AR. Having said that, I absolutely agree that every gun will “prefer” a commercial brand. It’s not hard to feed your gun various brands until you find the more accurate brand for your rifle.

    I long ago learned that proficiency with a rifle was more dependent on my personal skill level than either the gun or ammo. I can rarely out shoot the capabilities of a well manufactured gun or ammo, but have not had problems hitting adequate sized targets at a variety of useful ranges.

    I don’t have an opinion on the cost effectiveness of reloading vs purchased ammo.

    1. There is no way I could hit a prairie dog with cold bore shot at 500 yards, unless I was using my MOA ammo, and the wind was less than 10mph. Even then I could not guarantee a hit with a single shot. But it would be close. Of course I would not be defending myself from prairie dogs either, and I might not get a second shot at it. And it might shoot back. I would at least like to keep them from taking the barricade down, and maybe they would just go away. If anyone can hit a prairie dog first time, every time, without a precision rifle, I am indeed impressed. I cannot do that.

  12. If I was looking for a handgun/rifle combination it would be a .44 mag double action revolver and a Marlin or Henry .44 mag lever rifle. The rifle is a good brush gun for deer with the right loads. They both can be loaded with anything from .44 Special on up depending on the mission. You’d probably have to hand load to get the maximum versatility out of the pair. Semi-custom factory loaded rounds are available but expensive and not generally available except online. Even though they are the same caliber its likely you’d want different loads for each.

    A double action .357/lever rifle combination would probably be easier to feed, but the rifle is marginally effective on deer sized game.

  13. Regarding Pistol/carbine combinations, I have pairs in 9mm, 45acp, 357mag, .22lr and .22mag, 45 Colt and .44mag and lastly 10mm Auto. As proven in warfare most pistol calibers are good out to 100yds in a carbine/submachine gun. Much past that you get greatly diminishing returns. For traveling lightly and moving through close quarters they are adequate. If you plan to engage in full combat against an armored opponent you will not fair so well. In a SHTF situation, a light carbine and pistol combo will allow you to carry more ammo and share common magazines. If you view this as a BOB or get home bag kit it should work. Remember the first rule of a gun fight, “Have a gun” TTFN

  14. No offense intended to the reloaders of the world, but my shooting buddies and I have been out to Wyoming to shoot prairie dogs. We routinely got hits between 400-600 yards with 20 inch barreled ARs
    It should be said that the 20″ AR’s are varmint barreled ones that sell for at least $1200, but you can spend more if you want a “well manufactured” one. Also since the drop of a .223 bullet at 600 yards is around 120 inches (10 feet) you will need a decent rifle scope. Since I can afford to fly to Wyoming to shoot prairie dogs you know I at least have a Vortex PST II 6-24 rifle scope, set me back another $1000.

    Shooting at 600 yards is easy, you just need to divide the drop of the bullet by the yards to get the MOA adjustment on the scope. So in this case 120″ of drop / 600 is 20MOA and on my scope that is only about 3/4 of a turn, fire, adjust, fire adjust. Easy smeasy, after a couple dozen rounds we are dialed in and can “routinely” shoot the dogs.

    We shot a wide variety of ammo from cheap Tula to higher end Hornady “varmint” loads. Obviously there is no difference between the steel cased “Tula made in Serbia” ammo and the higher quality brass cased American made loads, Why would you expect that, no further explanation needed.

    No one needs to invest in “precision” hand loads to extract 300 yard plus performance out of a bolt gun or AR. I’m not sure why I said that as no one else in the thread has, I was just thinking out loud a irrelevant thought.

    I long ago learned that proficiency with a rifle was more dependent on my personal skill level than either the gun or ammo. I can rarely out shoot the capabilities of a well manufactured gun (expensive) or ammo (and it doesn’t matter what kind), but have not had problems hitting adequate sized targets at a variety of useful ranges.

    I don’t have an opinion on the cost effectiveness of reloading vs purchased ammo. Why would I do that, or was that the point? I won’t go into detail further.

  15. Hydrogen as fuel is a not well thought out proposal and a flavor of the month from several years ago(sea water as fuel/desalinated drinking water). The problems with hydrogen are mainly it’s extreme reactivity;it is both highly flammable(watch the Hindenburg fire),and would be corrosive to most containment vessels. Hydrogen is readily available but not a good idea to solve wind/solar intermittentcy

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