When factory ammunition is in limited supply, give handloading a try; here’s a list of reloading equipment and components you will need to get started.
As we all weather COVID-19, we’re probably all experiencing some anxiety and frustration with the situation. Personally, I wonder what will actually recover and what won’t. Will people be locked down again this fall? What are the long-term consequences of all this? As a shooter and reloader, it leads me to wonder what supply disruption could or will happen. Allow me to offer some suggestions on essentials to have stashed for all the “what ifs.”
Before I start, let me say that I’m not talking about you needing to have 100,000 rounds of ammunition stockpiled. Sure, I have a reasonable stash of ammo, but I figure that much beyond a couple thousand rounds for several essential calibers probably wouldn’t survive the fight or my future range use anyways. (My wife won’t sit still for me trying to stuff much more ammo under the beds either. What you need to do is take a critical look at having some inventory of essential and flexible reloading supplies to keep your core guns running for a while.
First, narrow down what you are going to try and keep shooting. You probably want to plink, hunting with rifle this fall, have a pet handgun well fed. Most of us probably have a firearm chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO, .30-’06 Springfield and 9mm. So, what is the minimum one should have on the shelf to keep these caliber firearms shooting? The first recommendation I’d offer is to start collecting extra cases for each of these calibers. Either purchase cases or start being one of those who pick up their own brass at the range (and be sure to pick up what other people leave on the range). I call it “Going dumpster diving with a brass bucket.”
Put up a supply of a selection of primers to keep your basic calibers going. I wouldn’t normally offer this up, but in a pinch, small pistol primers can be used as a small rifle primer and large pistol primers can be used as a large rifle primer. The pistol primers are slightly shorter than the comparable rifle primers and have slightly thinner cups. If you are forced to do this these primers will seat noticeably deeper. If you do this, do not use them with really slow powders and keep your loads in the middle of the charge-weight range. Don’t push the pressures!
There are several very flexible propellant choices you can make for both handgun and rifle propellants. Hodgdon Varget and Alliant RL-15 both work well in a wide range of rifle cartridges from .223 Rem. to .30-’06. Alliant Bullseye 86 and Power Pistol have application from 9mm to .45 ACP. There are other choices in these speed ranges, also; I’m just trying to offer some suggestions here. You get the idea. Look at several reloading guides and choose a rifle and pistol propellant that will cover your range of core cartridges you want to keep going and then buy some bullets in weights that will work with these propellants in your calibers of choice. By doing this you can purchase and stock up on a minimum of components and keep shooting if things get really tight.