Survival Reloading - Ammo

Discussion in 'Survival Articles' started by survivalmonkey, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. survivalmonkey

    survivalmonkey Monkey+++

    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.

  2. DMGoddess

    DMGoddess Monkey+++

    Question: how many times can you re-use brass before it's unusable? Just wondering?
  3. ri9115

    ri9115 Monkey

    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.
    tacmotusn and Brokor like this.
  4. DMGoddess

    DMGoddess Monkey+++

  5. Jeff Price

    Jeff Price Monkey

    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.
  6. Finster

    Finster Simplify, I'd say more but this says it all.

    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.
  7. Finster

    Finster Simplify, I'd say more but this says it all.

    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?
    Ganado, Dunerunner and chelloveck like this.
  8. tract

    tract On Hiatus Banned

    I don't see it making a bit of difference once shtf. So many will be dead, so soon, that there'll be lots of guns and ammo to be picked up. I've been a bullet caster and reloader for 45 years now, but it's for practice-advance-prep, not for post shtf. Cache 1000 rds of .22lr and a few hundred rds of centerfire rifle ammo and 50 rds of centerfire handgun ammo, and you'll have plenty of ammo, including a lot of barter (later). More shots fired will just mean that you're missing too much or have too many enemies for anyone to make it.
  9. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I'm like a cross between @tract and @Finster above. I believe that you cannot have enough .22LR on hand for small game, however; an precision .177 Cal. pellet rifle will fill that niche nicely. buy yourself twenty cans of pellets at 500 rounds per can and you have 10,000 rounds for semi-silent hunting. I also have a 45# long bow, extra bowstring or bowstring material and plenty of arrow blanks, fletching material and arrow heads just in case. I also hand load 9MM, .45 ACP, 30-06, .223 (5.56X45) and .308. all calibers that @tract mentioned that you might stumble across come SHTF. There is the box of 1800 spent .45ACP, and perhaps 100 or so .308, 30-06 and 9MM. I have powder and primers for all as well as bullets.

    At some time, that will all be gone. Then it will be me and my snares, bow, fishing gear and black powder rifle. Just like Jeremiah Johnson.... biglaff
  10. tract

    tract On Hiatus Banned

    the pellet rifle will belong to your killer in pretty short order. :) maybe a takedown, short ranged model could be carried, along with your pack and fighting rifle, but really, guys, the game will all be gone in a month or 2, eaten by people and the starving dog packs. So you're not going to run out of .22's by hunting with it. Traps, snares, bird lime, poison, nets, and trotlines are so much more likely to feed you than any longarm, anyway. they are silent, work 24-7, you can "run' 40 of them in 12 hours, scattered over many square miles, and you can service them at night. (so as to not get shot by desperate people).

    it is extremely arrogant to just assume that you'll make it, long term, especially with such silliness about how horrific the short term is going to be. In a year, 90+ % are going to be dead, if shtf. So there will be plenty of ammo for the survivors, for decades to follow.
    Lone Gunman and Dunerunner like this.
  11. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Well, @tract, my killer will have to get to me before I find them with my scoped .308 and, if I am careless and they get closer, my 9MM or .45 ACP... The decision for the pellet rifle is that ammunition is plentiful and cheap, it is a quiet small game getter, and would take the place of the .22LR conserving that ammunition for later down the road. Good point on the snares, and trout lines as they will be useful harvesting tools. Game will return after the goofs starve out. Even in areas where people band together and drive hunt an area, there will be game left. Never could trap off or hunt off the rabbit and pheasant on the airports I worked and it wasn't like the DFG didn't try...

    Come SHTF you will need a reliable battle rifle, AR-15, M-16, M-14, M1, or a suitable bolt gun. You will need a defense plan and defendable retreat. You can't hunt if your dead.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Not really... there maybe some but it will be highly distributed and the likelyhood of you finding a stash without getting yourself in a pickle is a BIG Issue...
  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    That's not a certainty. In a SHTF situation, where many things are hypothetical and can only be estimated, with very few certainties, the wildlife will vary. I can estimate a 6 to 8 month period before that route is ever seriously explored to the point at which hunting for game becomes difficult, and that only applies to some areas. In the Northwest, for example, GOOD LUCK hunting the wildlife to extinction.

    I agree with all but poison. Also, I do not recommend checking your traps at night since that's when a lot of trapping occurs.
  14. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I'm a hunter for the last 40+ years, so I notice a few flaws with this theory.
    A) if %90 are dead then new ammo will not be being made so what there is, is all there is, and brass can only be used so many times to reload. It will run out.
    B) the remaining %10, will be scouring the shops and stores, and homes for every gun, bullet, and crust of bread. Even if they don't need it, it will be used for barter. It will be a finite resource.
    C) If%90 are dead, all mass produced goods will stop, no new brass, clothes, foods, gun powder, lead,. Shot, you may be very good at reloading but can you make brass shells? Can I assume you have successfully made gun powder, already, and have the needed materials, or better yet, a local source? Don't expect them to scattered like wild flowers, because someone else, will have already picked those flowers.
    If you are running traps at night, it would need to be every other night or you will get very little for your efforts (most trapping happens at night.)
    D) learn to build fish traps, they produce better than trot lines.and can be made from natural flora.
    E) air guns work just fine, and they are pretty quite, but what makes you thing I wouldn't have a side arm at all times?
    F) chances of you, or twenty of your friends sneaking up on me, or even finding me when I'm hunting, are very, very low. The woods will announce you presence, long before you are within range, and you will not see me, unless I want you to. In fact, if you see "me" that is just the distraction, and you have been in my crosshairs long enough for me to have killed you at any time.
    If you get my gun, it is because I ran out of bullets, and didn't have enough sense to retreat while I still had ammo. You might want to rethink that theory.
    You might want to check out yoyo reels or auto fishers as well, and spring snares work well with fish as well, (you can make and set those with nothing more than fishing tackle and a knife.
    w9vhe, tacmotusn, oldawg and 2 others like this.
  15. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    I believe it was old Elmer Keith that decided his perfect round IF he had to choose one is the 38/357, 38's for small game, 357's for larger game.
    Easiest to cast and reload while on the run.

    Like Kellory suggested, I would focus on what's in the water and how to catch/trap it.
    1 live crawfish can turn into a 5lb. catfish or bass in a matter of minutes.
  16. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Couldn't agree more. I started reloading in my teens to "save money" LOL. Don't get me wrong, I did, but that just ment I had more money for more components and more dies...;) Like millions of others, somewhere along the way I fell in love with reloading. I really didn't care about money savings per say, it was how accurate can I make my loads, just how tight of a group WILL that .300 Winny shoot..:eek: Nowadays my reloading bench is mostly blue in color, but I still have my first RCBS jr and 5-05 scale. To me reloading has become much more than a survival skill. I believe it is a nessasary one, but it is a most enjoyable life long hobby. JMO
    Brokor and tacmotusn like this.
  17. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey


    Please understand I'm new here and am NOT trying to start an argument. I fail to see why the pellet gun will belong to his killer. I'm guessing that the P-gun is to be used as a quiet way to gather food while carrying your main weapons. In a semi rual area I can see the game being depleted/run off, but where our ranch is I don't see that happening at least for quite some time. I agree with the snares, trotlines,ect but couldn't the same people that are going to eat all the squirrels and deer raid your trotlines? I see it as a muli-pronged answer. There is no one correct answer,rather using several (if not all) of the mentioned methods would serve best IMHO.
    I honestly don't plan on scrounging for ammo.Don't get me wrong; if its there I'll grab it, but like I said in another post I've been reloading since my teens. I truly believe I have more than enough ammo to last-at least as long as I'm likely to last..;) I am a self confessed brass whore. We have tens of thousands of virgin and once-fired brass, kegs of powder,ect that isn't to be touched unless we need it. the stuff we reload for everyday shooting is different from the SHTF stores. JMT's
    bebop, Yard Dart, Brokor and 2 others like this.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I agree, never get stuck with just one way to eat. Something can always go wrong, have options and back up plans.
    As for Tract, don't take him too serious, you brain might explode. I would suggest you look up in the search box his alias "GunKid". He had just been banned, yet again.
    Pellet guns are fine for small game, and quiet hunting. I use a slingshot myself, as well as a bow, crossbow and guns.
    Tully Mars likes this.
  19. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @Tully Mars Just so you know, you are Being Trolled, by the infamous "GunKid" (tract, and a dozen other aliases) He shows up on here about every 6 months or so, Posts a bunch of ohno[BSf] and then gets BANNED by the Admins, after a couple of days of [lolol] NO one needs to respond to his posts, or justify their opposition to his statements. Just letting you know.....
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  20. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    We have bows as well,great way to relax in the evening. Interesting you mention crossbows. I've been looking at them recently. Where I grew up and where the ranch is they aren't allowed for hunting, but where we are now they are. I've always thought they were cool and wanted one AND WifeWoman approves so......:)
    tacmotusn and kellory like this.
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