If you’re survival minded like us you need to know how to make ammunition. If you’ve been keeping up with the news you’d know ammo is a hard thing to come by. Not only is ammunition hard to come by, but it will be exponentially harder to acquire post-disaster. With this in mind, maybe it’s time to learn the art of ammunition reloading. First and foremost you should understand the advantages and disadvantages of reloading your ammo. Don’t be a victim to erratic availability and price gouging, stay self-reliant.
A primary advantage to ammo reloading is the amount of money you will save. Realistically, practice makes perfect. You can’t expect to have 10,000 rounds stored with minimal time spent downrange. A lack in firearm training will most likely get your ass ate up in a combat theater. For this reason you need to hone those skills before the shit hits the fan. Because of this fact, you will need ammo… lots of ammo.
The primary disadvantage results in a lack of discipline and knowledge. Lacking these two components will result in bad loads, and possible bodily harm. Primers are an ignition source to the powder in the cartridge. Improper use and handling of primers will cause an unwanted ignition. Lead, primers, and powders should be stored properly and handled with standard PPE (personal protective equipment).
This ammunition reloading guide will outline SOP (standard operating procedures) and practices. This guide will get you started and pointed in the right direction. Aspiring reloaders should do independent research reading such supplemental articles as; Ammunition Handbook – Tactics and Techniques, Centerfire Rifle Ballistics Tables, Bullet Composition and Characteristics.
What you need to Reload Ammunition
First thing you’ll need is a reloading manual. (No, this guide does not replace a two-hundred page book on reloading). I suggest reading the Lyman 49th Edition Reloading Handbook. A good reloading handbook includes; equipment operation, supplies, processes and various accessories. This handbook is broken down by pistol, rifle, and various calibers.
Reloading Press Kit
A reloading press is the main component in the reloading process, which is the metallic cartridge type. For personal and entry-level ammo reloading you should use a hand-powered press like the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit. Not only is this reloading press perfect for when SHTF and the grid does down, but it is relatively easy to use. It contains all the tools you’ll need including;
- Press – Single stage reloading press
- Powder Measure – Non-digital
- Case Loading Block – Metallic cartridge tray
- De-burring Tool – Production burr removal
- Hand Priming Tool – Primer seating tool
- Case Lube Kit – Applied before the cases can be pressed into the die
- Basic Operations Manual – Outlines the basics in ammunition reloading and operational guidelines
- Hex Key Set and Funnel
Other Reloading Presses
Single stage presses perform function(s) on one case per class cycle. The die is then replaced in the press to perform the following function(s). Progressive presses rotate a case from one function to another, per each cycling action, thus producing a completed round in five steps +/-. Electric presses are considerably more expensive and have a justified role in ammunition distributed in the open market versus personal use.
Dies are caliber specific. Dies are sold in sets of two, one die resizes case diameter and the second assists in proper seating while adding a tapered crimp around the case mouth. An adjustable stem inside the first die will push out the spent primer while the stem’s upper portion expands to form outward belling of the case mouth. The second die’s adjustable stem determines bullet depth seating. Seating stems come in various shapes; hollow points, wad cutters, round nose and etc. You can purchase caliber specific die sets online;
- Precision Deluxe .223 Rifle Set
- Precision .45 ACP Carbide Set
- 9mm Carbide Luger
- .357 Magnum .38 Special Set
- 40 S & W Carbide
- Click here to see more die sets…
Digital Powder Scales
Even though there is a scale in the RCBS Reloading Kit, you should upgrade to a digital scale. The RCBS included scale is standard. The included powder measure comes with a hopper on top and a drop tube at the bottom with a rotor in the middle. Digital scales are much better due to the nature of the powder. Considering how inexpensive digital scales are, their use should be standard. A good product is the DigiWeigh Gunsmithing Scale with four different modes; grain, carat, gram, ounce. In the event of a grid-down disaster you can use the included scale.
Gun Powder and Bullet Tips
Gun powder can be purchased from local gun shops, certain sporting goods stores, or you can purchase online (there will be a hazardous shipping charge). A reliable company for reloading powder is Hodgdon; Hodgdon has an extensive selection of powder and reloading components. Bullet tips can be purchased from most gun shops including Sportsman’s Warehouse. Again, bullet tips are caliber specific and grain specific.
Now that you have the supplies you must research using the references we’ve provided. By no means does this guide replace a full reloading manual. Then again, some will tell you ammo reloading is not that complex (some can even do this process with their fingers and a hammer). For a quality product, process the key points highlighted in this guide and purchase quality products.
You will spend around five hundred dollars for all this equipment. Twenty rounds of .223 ammunition typically costs $15-20. That means approximately 25 boxes of reloaded ammunition pays for your equipment.