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Handloading Ammo In Troubled Times

by Mom-At-Arms Contributor: JJ Wittenborn

2020. Quite a year.

For quite some time, we’ve heard people wistfully wishing for “the good old days” when it comes to firearms and ammunition. Despite the warnings of “These ARE the good ol’ days” many refused to heed, and were caught off guard with their dwindling ammo supplies, or simply shot more than their reserves could maintain. For most of us who are not sponsored professional shooters, or no longer members of specialized military and law enforcement units: ammo is scarce. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality practice, duty, defensive, and competition ammunition. What can be done in the interim?

One thing most long-term shooters have is brass. Specifically, fired cartridge casings of past range, training sessions, &/or competitions that have piled up in boxes, bags, and kits that are sadly just taking up space. “Brass” is becoming scarce and sought after, so the option exists: trade what you have for cash / barter, or load your own. Scrap brass prices at recycling centers are a pittance. Why not get busy building your own ammo while components are still (barely) available?

Like Mel Gibson’s character in the movie The Patriot ((1) The Patriot (2000) - Making bullets with your dead son's toys - YouTube ...

where he’s hand casting lead ammunition in a swamp, desperate times call for desperate measures. Pick up your range brass out of politeness or necessity, and get started.

Pistol shooters are often high volume consumers of ammunition. Range sessions and competitions can stretch into dozens, or even hundreds of rounds. Training classes can consume thousands. The challenging Rogers Shooting School Intermediate/ Advanced Pistol Course I attended a few years ago budgeted 2,500 rounds over five days. Unless one sets that back well in advance, it would be all too easy to get cut short. Most rifle classes don’t involve that volume of fire, but a week’s worth of intensive riflery can eat up half that. Those aren’t small numbers when we consider ammo prices have doubled or tripled in the past few months, and many entire calibers are virtually “unobtanium” even at large wholesalers. While I would not recommend diving solo into the hobby and current life skill that is modern handloading, ignoring the reality that exists in today’s climate is delusional.

Remember saying to yourself you’ll deal with it “some rainy day?” Well, look outside, buddy, it’s pouring!

If you shoot enough to have collections of brass in the garage, odds are you know a home reloader. You know…that introverted geezer at the end of the range, invariably tinkering over the years with different handloads, obsessing at times over tiny, mundane intricacies of the process. Gain