Survival Reloading and an interesting real life example

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Hogleg, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Hogleg

    Hogleg Monkey+

    Recently I have been studying the topic of Survival Reloading, which I find an interesting microcosm of survival skills in general. While most serious Preppers have a store of ammunition, practically all of us constantly question if we “have enough” or “how much is enough”. I keep 10,000 rounds of 5.56, and thousands of rounds for pistol, shotgun and .22. Is it enough?

    Ammunition, unlike most food stores, really doesn't have a shelf life. Smokeless powders do not degrade as long as kept dry - it should last a lifetime. In the 90’s, there were large batches of WWII surplus ammunition available to the public at great prices and my experience was it worked just fine.

    So what does Survival Reloading have to do with other survival skills? Bullets are just like food, medical supplies and other consumable commodities in that we all must determine a balance between finished product, raw material and post-TEOTWAWKI production. Using food as an example, finished product would be MREs or canned food, raw material would be a sacks of rice and post-TEOTWAWKI production would be seeds.
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    Unlike food, ammunition requirements in a post-TEOTWAWKI life can be very difficult to predict. If only a few of us homo sapiens are left wondering the earth, then ammunition requirements could be very low. If wide spread famine breaks out, then ammunition might be in high demand both for defense and bartering.

    Ammunition also differs from food in that there are certain components, such as primers, which would be EXTREMELY difficult to produce in a complete breakdown of society – OR WOULD THEY?

    While I was researching the topic, I came across a book written in late 1940’s by Ira Wolfert called “<I>American Guerilla In The Philippines</I>” (there was a movie by the same name based on the book). The book basically explores the life of Navy Officer David Richardson who ended up on a Pacific island and joined a Philippine Guerilla group to fight the Japanese.

    The book addresses the topic of ammunition and “survival” reloading at a level that many Preppers would never consider. First of all, the guerilla group had only a few old bolt action rifles, and somehow ended up with about 3000 empty rifle cartridges (brass). Not a great place to start.

    So they took old brass curtain rods and cut them to length and then pushing them through a rifle barrel in order to size (Swag) them. Anyone who has ever removed a lodged bullet from a rifle barrel will testify that this must have been brutal work. They then took lead from old automobile batteries, smelted it down and filled the brass. <I>Would most of us know how to smelt lead without our fancy electric furnaces?</I>
    For primers, they punched out the old ones and used a knife to remove the anvil and pounded out the firing pin detent. They used a mixture of Sulfur, Coconut carbon and antimony powder (I had to look that one up) to make a paste. <I>Would you know how to do this?</I>
    They had a Japanese sea mine that they dissembled and used the explosive as a base for their powder. Various mixtures were attempted to reduce the burn rate into something the old rifles could handle. They then poured the powder into the brass and measured it by sight alone. <I>Would you know how to do this?</I>
    The bullets were then crimped into the brass by hand using pliers. According to the book, 60 soldiers could produce about 160 rounds per day and 80% of them actually fired. Not something I would relish taking into battle, but then again, it sure beats charging a machine gun nest with a machete.

    I reload a lot of ammunition and have for over 30 years. I have all of the fancy electrical equipment one could imagine and have even wildcatted my own brass. When I read this account, it dawned on me how little I actually KNEW about the chemistry involved in the entire process. It also made me reconsider earlier decisions regarding black powder weapons and other “low technology” firearms.
    Falcon15, Opinionated and Georgia_Boy like this.
  2. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    I've been looking at getting into reloading, Im just trying to get my building finished to have a good secure work area. I had similar thoughts like ok if every thing went Hell what would I do as far as how would I be able to scavage reload supplies and what if I couldn't find any. Also like you said at the bottom of your post I to took a second look at black powder weapon's and bought two 50cal rifles and a pistol for when other supplies ran out and poss if needed to hunt with to save my ammo for more security reasons. I have to say the black powder is kind of fun to shoot and the weapons didn't cost an arm and a leg. As for reloading I've managed to keep all my survival weapons in the same cal. My 45ACP me, my wife and daughter 9mm, me and the wife 5.56 and the 12ga. That way when I get started I can do more of the same ammo.
  3. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I have a few old style Lee Reloaders that fit in your pocket.... if you have the makings you can load a round in less than a minute... There are other ways to make primers as well but take a bit of chemistry knowhow...
  4. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    A lot of popular older cartridges began life as black powder metallic cartridges, or were loaded with black powder before smokeless powder was widely available. .38 Special, 30-30, all of the cowboy cartridges, 45-70, British .303, etc.

    They are a blast to shoot, but a royal pain in the butt to clean. I shot one of my revolvers until it go so dirty that I couldn't rotate the cylinder anymore. It actually didn't take that long, a little over 50 rounds.

    I've learned a bit about reloading black powder cartridges since then. You need to get a bullet lube that is specific for black powder, and season the barrel with it too. Don't use regular gun cleaning solvents as they will remove the seasoning and you have to repeat the process all over again.
  5. limpingbear

    limpingbear future cancer survivor....

    ive been thinking about getting a couple of flinchlocks for hunting purposes. i know how to make my own powder and ive got lots of lead, so its just a matter of keeping flints on hand and you will be able to keep the larder stocked for a long time....
    dragonfly likes this.
  6. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Have tried to establish a minimum reserve of primers but often run low. I have molds for just about all my caliber needs and a great stockpile of lead. Primers are the weak link so gather a few extra.
  7. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    There is a book called "THE CHEMISTRY OF POWDER AND EXPLOSIVES" by Tenney L. Davis. ISBN-0913022-00-4 which may be of interest.
  8. Resqdan

    Resqdan Archangle

    i try to keep 5000 primers for each of my primary calibers, 9mm, .45, .40, .223, 7mm.. any other calibers i keep a min of 1000 primers on hand.. vacuum seal the primers and rotate when i catch a sale.. I try to keep many lbs of powder (the goal to reload at least 5000, but usually have more) and i am trying to get powders which i can use with several calibers, which in tough times i could make a round that would work with almost any powder.
    But i am a reloader and have, and know what i need to make this happen. I have hundreds of lbs of lead and the ability to make my own bullets for most rounds.
    If you are considering getting into this, get on some reloading sites, buy a couple of books and research it. You can buy handloaders from lee for specific calibers so you can reload the caliber you use.

    which is why i have pleanty of rounds on hand but lots of brass and reloading stuff because i dont know for sure what caliber i will find the most usefull when tshtf. if i have 10000 rounds of 7mm on hand and find out that my 9mm or .243 is what i should have stocked up on.. well the 7mm are probably barter material or waste, but as a reloader with the same scenerio, i could just use my primers and powder to make more of the usefull rounds.. i would not have 10000 rounds of a caliber like 7mm but if i did i would also have to ability to pull the bullets apart and use the powder and stuff for other rounds.. this is getting pretty deep into it but i have many more options being a reloader and a skill which could be very valuable in tough times.

    I encourage all of you to look into it, try to limit your calibers at first, it will make it easier to stock up and learn the skill to help you understand what you need. It really doesnt cost alot to get into if you stay basic.. it does if you go high end on everything and try to get into every caliber and buy all the bullets,primers,and powders at once, but to get to tools to reload a handgun caliber and a rifle caliber you could have everything you need for under a couple hundred bucks, less than that if you go with the lee handloaders.. and you dont need a special room to do it in, just a clean spot on the work bench will do in a pinch, but as you get into it you will want your own place for it to keep everything organized

    and dont forget to have at least 10000 rounds of .22 rimfire either, cause you will use that for sure
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Primers are definitely the weak link in the reloading Preps... They are not something that you can just MAKE, yourself, easily. The chemistry of the Energetic, is another area that is a bit more than the average user can fathom. Original Primers were made using Mercury Fulminate. (same Stuff that early Blasting caps were powered by) this was very problematic as they were very friction, heat and percussion sensitive, and that made them prone to misfire, and double fire. Then Lead Azide was introduced, which was a gigantic leap forward in Primer reliability. This was then the Energetic of choice, until Lead Styphanate was introduced. This is where we are today. Lead Styphanate is the energetic material in ALL modern ammunition Primers. ..... YMMV....
    Falcon15 and dragonfly like this.
  10. overbore

    overbore Monkey++


    As it happens, I am the author of a modern version of Survival Reloading. If anyone wants free copy, sent me your e-mail and I will e-attach it; about 12 pages covering about 50 years of experience. Your e-addy will be kept for one time use only; no sales crap.

    Laus Deo
    Hispeedal2, Falcon15 and dragonfly like this.
  11. Espada

    Espada Monkey+

    I have beaucoup 5.56 and 7.62 NATO hardball rounds stacked. Got to thinking about how many I'd really ever need to use on zombies, as opposed to thousands of rounds expended stopping the Mongol hordes. Wanted to make each one count, since the opportunity for this kind of entertainment doesn't come along often (unless one lives in Philadelphia), so ordered a bunch of Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets in each caliber.

    Simply pull the FMJ and insert the Nosler (RCBS and others make pullers and caliber specific collets) for somewhat increased accuracy and vastly increased tissue destruction... the Ballistic Tip doesn't have the propensity to hang up on the feed ramp like a soft point might.

    Disclosure: I am not a signatory of either the Hague or Geneva Conventions.
    Falcon15 likes this.
  12. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Thanks, Overbore!
    Falcon15 and Opinionated like this.
  13. teeter

    teeter Monkey+

    If I shoot even a few score rds of .22lr, there's going to be all kinds of guns and ammo lying beside dead bodies, so why should I worry about stockpiling lots of centerfire ammo?
  14. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    ....<Sounding familar> [dunno]
  15. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Would these 22's be a silenced version as not to give away your position?
    Falcon15 likes this.
  16. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Thanks Ovebore!
  17. teeter

    teeter Monkey+

    Of course, since that option is of great value and very easy to achieve. Even if they were not, however, by using darkness, thick cover, and judgement about when and against whom to use those .22's, very nearly the same level of achievement is quite possible, by a highly skilled shooter.
  18. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

  19. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    Little Johnny never considers the fact that someone might shoot back!
  20. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Thanks Overbore, am sure it will be great reading. Have three presses and they are mounted on 2X6s then secured to the bench with washers/wingnuts. They can be removed very quickly. In arms reach almost are several large empty ammo cans that all the reloading stuff can fit into. Not planning on leaving but am prepared to if necessary.
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