by Dave Campbell - Wednesday, February 20, 2013
What are shooters saying today? “Know where I can find some .22 shells?"
Ammo is in short supply. A brick of .22 LR cartridges commands as much as $40 now. If you can find it, budget center-fire pistol ammo is going for a buck a round. Hunting ammunition isn’t immune to this condition either. And if you are trying to find some .223 Rem. cartridges to whack a few coyotes or prairie dogs this spring, good luck! I was told that three cases of Berdan-primed surplus .223 Rem. at a gun show recently went for $400 per case, and they went to a single buyer.
Some folks believe that this dearth of ammunition will not be short lived. If you feel similarly, it’s time to equip yourself and learn how to load your own ammo. Handloading isn’t difficult to learn, and as long as you can pay attention to a reasonable amount of detail, loading your own ammunition isn’t dangerous. Even if you are buying all-new tooling, you can get started for less than $200. If you are a good scrounger—haunting garage and estate sales or some online auction sites—you can buy in for considerably less.
While you can get by with used tooling and perhaps find some deals on components, there are a few things where you do not want to skimp or go too cheap on. The first thing you buy after the tooling—or better yet buy it when you buy your tooling—is a current reloading manual, and you should never vary from the recipes in that manual. “Aww, it’ll take a little more powder…” does not ever work. The other absolute no-no is buying powder or primers that are not in their original factory packaging. I don’t care how cheap the price. It isn’t worth the risk of getting something that isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Even if it is, it may not have been stored properly and might not perform as it should.
A few years ago I did some handloading seminars at some sportsman shows and the NRA Annual Meetings. I was—and remain—amazed at how few shooters load their own ammo. When I started to learn shooting, I could not afford to shoot unless I handloaded my ammo. Folks, it isn’t ever going to be less expensive. Consider this expenditure to be an investment in the future of your shooting hobby.
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