Survival Reloading - Ammo

Reloading is an age old hobby and a "must have" for Survival situations. It requires little to no electricity and effectively supplies the survivalist with a means to "recycle" spent brass; using long-lasting, previously stockpiled components.

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Reloading is an age old hobby and a "must have" for Survival situations. It requires little to no electricity and effectively supplies the survivalist with a means to "recycle" spent brass; using long-lasting, previously stockpiled components.

Many have commenced the task of handloading in search of obvious monetary savings, which are certainly in their future. But come later, rather than sooner: most handloaders will find though, that the addiction to the hobby, the absolute love of handloading, becomes more important than any money that will be saved.

As a survivalist, brainstorming possible scenarios relating to the much discussed SHTF situations that this world could feasibly find itself in, is unavoidable, as well as the desire and the drive to prepare for those uncertain events by stocking up beforehand.

Most likely the question has already crossed your mind...Why handload as a survivalist?
Can't I just stock up on ammo, that I may need when the SHTF?

Well, If you are reading this, you are at least interested in handloading, whether it be for the afore mentioned money savings, or for fine tuning custom rounds for your unique firearms, in order to achieve tighter groups, or maybe to down-load for low recoil, target practice, on some silhouettes at the pistol range...The immediate reasons are actually endless, from hunting to home protection.

Quite frankly, I can not think of a million reasons why handloading would improve the survivalist's lifestyle so much better than just simply stock piling ammo...So I do both.

However, imagine if you will, that you awake to find that TSHTF for real, and the future purchase of any ammo, with the exception of the black market is over, understandably you have 10,000 rounds of ammo varying from .22LR to .375 H&H packed away...You are taken care of, you are good to go, but wouldn't it be nice, after dropping some small game for dinner, to reach down and pick up that spent 5.56 case knowing that it's life is far from over? As a survivalist, you are planning to live for a long time, so ask your self an honest question, do I really keep enough ammo, on hand at all times, to last me the rest of my life?

Simply having the skill to 'make ammo' for others could also become a very valuable asset...
Consider the guy who failed to put any ammo up, or has simply ran out completely, what would it be worth to him, to acquire a few rounds of ammo for his favorite hunting rifle, to allow him to harvest meat for his hungry family?

If wheat is the survivalists 'magic stock pile food' then irrefutably smokeless powder has to be his 'magic stock pile material'...Kept in a cool closet, it will easily out live you and your grandkids. So now you have the skill, and plenty of powder, your clients will be bringing you their spent cases, along with any lead you may have asked them to scrounge up for you...Casting bullets is an all together different animal, but with tire shops that are known to give wheel weights away by the bucket full, one can sure stock up on the materials needed in a short order.

If your goal IS to simply stockpile ammo, consider, that once the purchase price of the tools are overcome, there IS a nice savings to look forward to, a recent reloading manual lists a savings for 30-06 at about 20 cents per round, which certainly equates to more ammo in the store, while saving money for other necessities.

Any seasoned handloader will tell you that after only a few years of passionately pursuing this hobby, the components seem to grow in their stockpiles on their own, Fire Chiefs nation wide would shutter to think of the many pounds of powder being kept in residential handloading nooks, explaining the thought that, if you get started in the hobby now, you will most likely have more than enough, when you need it most.



  1. Question: how many times can you re-use brass before it's unusable? Just wondering?
  2. Simple answer, no set amount. Depends on several factors: case condition, is it bent, smashed case neck split, etc. Do you have the tools to check case length and trim if necessary? I have used some brass 2 - 3 times then had to dispose of it. Some brass was lost before it's life was over.
    Short answer, If it is in good shape to start with you should get several re-loadings from it.
  3. Thanks
  4. I am very interested in survival techniques. I am interested in stocking up on the most universal powders, primers and any other tips and hints for keeping my guns running when TSHTF. Will keep reading. Thanks.
  5. I'm an NRA reloading instructor. My number 1 hint, is have as few different calibers in our arsenals as possible. i.e. consider the 10,000 round stockpile described above, and you have 10 different calibers. This means either way less than 1000 rounds available for each firearm, assuming like me you have several thousand rounds for the .22lr, that means you are probably somewhere between 250-750 on most other calibers. In a no more ammo ever situation some of these "other calibers" will become museum pieces. Sure you can reload, but that means stocking several thousand each of at least 4 different primers probably dozens of pounds of 3 or 4 powders, thousands of manufactured bullets (or cast your own), and the dies, tools and minor parts to make them all come together.

    Reloading is a great option to buying outright 10-30k rounds of ammo, but limiting the number of calibers you need to stock is still a great option for making it cheaper and easier. Here is an example, lets say you are the typical gun enthusiast and have more than a dozen pistols of varying caliber, a pair of shotguns and at least 1/2 dozen rifles. (way to many? no I said Enthusiast! as in competitive or use guns > 2-3x/month)
    In my scenario that is 2-9mm pistols, 2-.45acp pistols, a .357Mag revolver, 2 or 3 .22lr target pistols, a .40 S&W (or 2) for EDC, 2-12ga shotguns, one auto and one pump, 1-AR15 5.56nato, 30-06 hunting rifle, 1-6.5 Creedmore target rifle, 1-AR15 6.8mm SPC, 1-.22lr Ruger 10/22, 1-M1A or M1 Garand, grandpa's 30-30 and maybe even his old 45 Webly, a .380 pocket pistol and thats probably about enough to choke a safe.
    By my count that is about 20 guns in 13 calibers (with a probably more than one type of cartridge for a few of these).

    Im not saying fewer guns or that yours need to be similar to this list, just that eliminating a couple of calibers in favor of something you already have is a smart (and hard to do for me) move. For example .40S&W - .45 ACP, arguably there is little difference in power factor, I love the added capacity of the modern polymer pistols in .40 but also love the look and feel of my .45 Kimber. So what to do? Well I could swap the AR15-5.56 nato for a pistol caliber carbine and (.40 or .45) and swap two pistols for ones that match the carbine caliber (and mag type if you want to get really streamlined) and just keep missing the .45s but knowing I have a much simpler storage problem and now I can have 2k - 3k of one caliber.

    Diversity of menu is a good thing, diversity of ammo in battle is not.

    Just food for thought.
  6. Additional Thoughts; Cleaning Brass
    I have been cleaning brass for the last 4 days, I find it relaxing while I'm organized almost meditative. When I am not organized its not fun, I waste time and steps this is important to every aspect of reloading. Organize your workspace, materials and tools.

    I pre-wash most brass in 5 gallon buckets with a bit of dish soap and plenty of hot water from the tap. 3 tablespoons soap, 2.5 gallons hot water, 300-1000 rounds of your pre-sorted caliber. Rifle rounds like 30-06 may need to be adjusted down slightly to have room to stir. Then stir, let soak about 30 minutes, stir again, another 30 minutes then pour the whole mess down the drain through a screen.

    Then depending on the planned use of the brass and how clean it is at this point, I either dry tumble-polish or sonic clean, then dry tumble-polish. Sonic cleaning is <10 minutes per batch using a Lyman 2500T and case cleaning concentrate diluted 1-20 with hot water. Each "mix" is good for 4-8 small batches of brass. When its too dirty to see the brass in the bottom of the machine I toss it and refill. Once clean they need to dry throughly before tumbling. To dry I don't like to add heat, I'm not hauling that stuff in and out the house all night, so I basically spread them out either on towels or in trays for the smaller quantities.

    Now I like my brass to look good, not necessarily factor but as close as I can get without hand polishing every case. so I use walnut media in a regular vibratory tumbler with a double dose of Hornady Case Polish. This makes a huge difference in the look/feel and seems to make the nice clean polished look LAST. With just plain clean media the cases will come out clean but a bit dusty, add some polish and the dust goes away and the media lasts for thousands and thousands of rounds. In this weeks cleaning session I have Cleaned & Polished 1250 30-06, 500+ 6.8mm, 1000+ 9mm, 2000 .40S&W, and I still have clean floors, clean media and plenty of solution & polish to finish the other 5000 rounds I am planning to do the rest of the week.

    I'm sure this isn't the easiest or fastest method, whats yours?
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Jun 30, 2012
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