Ammo Security III: a minimalist kit

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

(NOTE: this actually isnt a true ‘minimal’ amount. You could achieve everything listed here with some even smaller, older, long-discontinued tools [like the old Ideal series that had dies, bullet sizer and mould all built into the same set of handles] however, anyone who has a goodly number of years experience reloading will tell you that whats shown below is pretty minimal and using less than the stuff here would be an even bigger pain in the ass.)

Remember I said that you could get pretty much everything you need to reload ammo for a particular gun for less than a hundred bucks and it would all fit into an ammo can? Well, I was perusing the Kalispell gun show and thought I’d put my money where my blog was and see how it went. As always, it was an eye-opening (and, sadly, wallet-opening) experience.

First up, the classic Lee Loader. This little collection of tools will reload .38 Special cartridges. The kit comes with a powder scoop that will hold a predetermined amount of powder. This works fine as long as you stay within the range of bullet weights and powders supported by this particular measure. You could increase the versatility by buying a reloading scale but that’s more expense and space than this experiment calls for. You could, however, pick up a few extra different size scoops out of a Lee Powder Measure Kit and check them against a reloading manual to see if they’d work with your particular bullet/powder combination. These Lee Loaders are slow and tedious to use. They also, generally, will not full length resize a case. However, they are cheap with an MSRP of around $24. Used they run a lot less because, quite simply, no one uses them. This one was $15 but the guy took $10 for it. Cost thus far: $10 (Alternatives: Lyman 310 tool with dies)

Next up, a Lee bullet mould. Single cavity with integral handles. Its an aluminum mould so it’ll cast well but you gotta be careful not to damage it. Design is the ever popular 150~ gr. SWC. MSRP $20. This one was used but never used. Pulled it out of someones junk box. Very few people cast for .38’s because you can usually buy bullets cheaply. Additionally, when they do cast they use a 2-,4-,6- or 8-cavity mould. Hence, the lack of popularity of a single-cavity mould. Price used: $10. Total costs so far: $20

So you have a mould, now what? Well, you need a small pot to melt lead in. Any small metal pot will do. Lee used to make one but I don’t see it in the current catalog. You can scrounge a small heavy metal pot from almost anywhere. I found this one from Lee, along with a Lee Lead Ladle, for $10. Even came with a bunch of lead already in it. You’ll have to provide your own heat source though. Lead? Well, a pair of vice grips and a parking lot will provide plenty of wheelweights to melt down. (Make sure they aren’t zinc.) Spent so far: $30

So you’ve got your lead pot sitting on a fire. You take your ladle and pour some molten lead into your mould, let it cool, and crack it open. Out drops your bullet. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once you have a pile of bullets made you’ll need to size and lube them. A nice luber sizer as made by Lyman or RCBS will set you back over $150. As always, Lee has a tedious, but cheap, way of doing it. This is an older version of their ‘pan lube’ method. You stand the bullets upright in the provided metal pan and pour melted bullet lube into the pan until it covers the grooves of the bullets. Once the wax hardens you remove the bullets with a ‘cookie cutter’ device. The lubed bullet is then pushed through the provided sizing this case .358. This older style of lubing has been replaced by Lee’s new Lube and Sizing Kit which is designed to be used on a press but can be used handheld as needed. MSRP is $16.98. Got the older style kit for $10 used, but new old stock. Spent $40 up to this point.

So you have bullets to reload and you have your little loading kit. What next? Primers and powder. There are no discounts on this stuff these days so youre looking at around $25 per 1000 primers and $20 per pound of powder. We’ll get over 1000 reloads from the pound of powder. You have been saving your fired brass for reloading, right? We’ll chalk that up as zero cost. Powder and primer is $45 bringing our total so far to $85.

Throw in 2 50-round ammo boxes to give you 100 pieces of brass to reload, and you’re pretty much good to go. Personally, I’d prefer closer to 250 pieces of brass, but I could only fit 100 in the regular size .50 can. Bummer. Tose 100 cases, by the way, should last a pretty long time. .38 isnt exactly a high pressure cartridge and lead bullet loads tend to be pretty easy on your brass. Getting ten reloads out of each piece shouldnt be a problem.

Will it all fit into a .50 caliber can? Lets find out.

Fits in the .50 can with no real room to spare. Oh, sure, you could throw in some loose brass to fill the nooks and crannys…but thats splitting hairs. However, that can on the left is what we in the biz call a ‘tall .50′. Its just like the other .50 but..well…it’s taller. Enough room for a BoreSnake cleaning kit and a K-frame pistol in a holster. Seal this baby up and you are good to go. Tucked away someplace safe, cool and dry this stuff will get your gun up and running for at least 1000 rounds and last pretty much forever.

Some of you may think this was an interesting experiment and will rush out to put such a package of your own together. Don’t do it. Here’s why – this was to show you the cheapest way to put together the minimum you would need to keep your gun fed during lean times. It’s the cheapest but it isn’t the best. If youre that concerned about your future and your ability to feed your favorite pistol (or rifle since these will work nicely out of my .357 lever action) then don’t buy cheapest, buy best. Theres much better gear that will increase versatility and quality of your ammo, to say nothing of being easier to use. I can guarantee you that it will cost more than the $85 we spent here and it’ll take up more space, but it will be far easier to use, provide better ammo, and reload a more diverse collection of cartridges.

I’d also like to take a moment to discuss the overwhelming amount of Lee products in this experiment. Lee manufactures brilliantly designed products using second-rate materials. They are great for making innovative and affordable products but its usually at the expense of quality. Theres an old saying that “Quantity has a quality all its own”..that means that while I may only get 3000 rounds of bullets out of a Lee mould before it needs replacing, it doesn’t matter since the moulds are so cheap to start with. When it comes to spending the least amount of money, you go to Lee. Lee does make a few products that are hard to beat, like their carbide dies, but for durability and longevity (which is paramount if youre planning for that uncertain future) I recommend RCBS. All the reloading equipment manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their products, but that’s cold comfort when youre miles from the nearest post office or gun shop and don’t want to tip your hand about what youre doing. RCBS isn’t the best either (that title, in my opinion, goes to Redding) but you’ll be able to find RCBS parts and accessories in any gun shop that sells reloading gear. If youre going to put together a package of reloading gear and plan on spending what it takes, get the RCBS gear and reloading packages.RCBS quality is excellent and their customer support is unbeatable in the industry.

So, there you have it. You can put together a total reloading package for less than a hundred bucks and have it all be very portable. Use a slightly larger ammo can and store some extra powder and primers and a package like this might be very valuable someday. Realistically, though, this is more of a ‘just in case’ package for someone who wants to have the option of reloading someday but just doesn’t have the money to spend right now for the top of the line gear. The gear shown above will keep you in ammo when everyone else is scratching their head wondering where their next box of HydraShocks is coming from.

Kalispell gun show

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Kalispell gun show today. Where to start, where to start…. no AR’s for less than $1200. I did see one fella selling stripped Stag lowers for $165 – cheapest I’ve seen in a while.  Magazines were well represented with several betamags floating around $269-$369. Almost no ammo to speak of. No large quantities of reloading components either…sure, a box of bullets here and there but not boxes of 1000 bullets, boxes of 500 cases and no primers whatsoever.

John Trochman wasnt there, oddly, so I have no idea how his ’survivalist’/’militia’ stuff was selling.

The show itself was pretty crowded…it was hot and humid from the massive crowd that was shuffling through. The tables with muzzleloaders and hunting rifles were almost like an oasis in the crowd…the major focus was on ‘black guns’ and thats where the crowds were. A sellers market.

Yeah, I picked up a few odds and ends for myself. I’ll report on that tomorrow.

U.S. State wants to use Silver, Gold as legal tender – Article

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Well this is kind of interesting:

A bill being considered in the Montana Legislature blasts the Federal Reserve’s role in America’s money policy and permits the state to conduct business in gold and silver instead of the Fed’s legal tender notes.

I doubt this will get any traction , these sorts of things rarely do….but its a nice shot at the current situation. While I’d be amused at tossing a couple 1 oz. gold coins onto the counter at the propety tax  desk I can forsee all sortsa problems with this sort of thing. For example, the person that comes to court and wants to pay their fines in 14k gold chains or some such crap. Will every government office have to have an assayer in it? I suppose you could make it so that payment had to be in a form of metal that was at least 90% pure, allowing folks to pay with their old silver dimes and quarters but not with other coins that have only trace amounts of silver/gold in them.

The article is a tiny bit misleading in that US minted gold/silver coins are already legal tender…they’re stamped right on them with their value (”Five Dollars”, “Twenty Dollars”, etc) but their value is dwarfed by the value of the metal the coin is composed of. You could pay your taxes with gold coins perfectly legally you’d be, in effect, spending $1000 to pay with a $20 coin.

Like I said, it’s an interesting idea but really more of just a political statement than anything else. I do like the fact that it’s coming from my home state, though.

Stag arrival

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

One of the AR’s that I ordered in late November arrived today. Finally.

The price on the invoice? $740 for this particular gun. As I told the lucky bastard that ordered it, I could sell it today for almost twice that. In fact, I was hoping he had developed some sort of financial crisis and would be unable to take delivery…but, no, he came and picked up his new toy. Oh well…next batch has two of ‘em in there just for me…one complete flattop like the onle above, the other is a flattop but with a sight tower on the front. However, this little goody did show up with the rifle and its all mine:

This little guy goes into the gun safe ‘just in case’. Price? When I ordered it back in November, $85. They routinely sell for over $200 at gun shows around here. I have three more of them on the way for myself.

So…that was about 16 weeks. And that was before they started telling everyone ’six months’. Fortunately, the rest of the parts to put the lowers together, and the uppers themselves, are unrestricted (at the moment) and won’t require anything more complicated than a phone call and a credit card.

How many rifles does that give us? Well, more than Sarah Brady but less than Ted Nugent. Leave it at that.

Public opinion

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

“But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” – 1984, Orwell

Regardless of how you feel about .gov bailouts and ‘obscene’ executive bonuses (bonii?), theres a very important lesson to be learned from observing the current hullaboo. That lesson is that .gov, when it thinks it can get away with it, will target the tiniest demographic if it serves their needs. Additionally, much like those German guys back in ’39, if you vilify a particular demographic, or ‘chosen people’ perhaps, public opinion will be far less damaging when the hammer does finally drop.

Our friends at .gov have come out and quite plainly said that their goal is to pass a fast law to remove as much as 90% of the money these people were contracted to receive. (Keep in mind that even before this nonsense, they would have already been forking over almost 50% in taxes.) All it takes now is to focus public opinion on another demographic…gun owners? Conservatives? Home schoolers?…get public opinion on their side and then whip out the narrowly-aimed legislation. Don’t think so? Come on … you know better. Your cabin out in the hills? That’s a ‘compound’, buddy. Your friends who come by to drink beer and talk about politics? Co-conspirators. Your Mini-14? Assault weapon. The two bricks of Federal .22 ammo? ‘Thousands of rounds’ of ammo. Of course the public will be relieved when .gov steps in and ‘takes action’ against those ‘dangerous radicals’.

Seriously…this is an amazing example of .gov targeting a small group, lining up the court of public opinion in .gov’s favor, and then pulling the trigger. Expect to see this sort of thing happen more and more in the next few years. Alert the public to a threat, vilify the perpetrators, propose action, claim righteousness in the name of ‘fairness’, bask in public adoration. Lather, rinse, repeat.

As the economy sours more and more people are going to be easy to inflame against the ‘haves’ by the ‘have nots’. There is nothing wrong with being poor. There is nothing wrong with being rich. Pick which one you want to be and run with it. Personally, I’d rather be rich. Failing that, I’d happily settle for ‘not poor’.

Whats this got to do with bunkers and band aids? Economic balkanization is just as dangerous as ethinc or racial balkanization. When someone somewhere determines that what you have, what you’ve earned, and what you do is somehow unfair, exploitive, or ‘too profitable’ they are usually about to intrude into your existence in a major way. Screwing with a persons way of supporting themselves is no different than running a bulldozer through their greenhouse, shooting at their livestock or poisoning their well.

This vilification of greed (which will become synonymous with ‘ambition’ or ‘drive’) is going to be the first of a long line of ‘correct thinking’ that we’re going to see. The notion of sticking your neck out, working to build your own little empire and then enjoying its sweet rewards will become an example of ‘selfish’, ‘greedy’ or ‘anti social’ behavior. The well-read among us will recognize some certain parallels to Ayn Rands magnum opus.

Some people will watch the TV and gloat, saying “Yeah! Screw the rich! They should take all their money!” without realizing that once that’s done there’ll be another group, another demographic, another crowd, another faction for the .gov to focus its sights on. Hopefully you wont be that new target but with the proper media vilification, like we’re seeing now, it wont matter…public opinion will be against you and .gov will have a free hand.

Moral? If youre going to make more than $250k a year try to do it as low-profile as possible. I’d never suggest you duck your tax responsibilities by getting paid in cash, starting sideline cash businesses, obtaining alternate ID to work without tax consequences, or anything like that. That would be wrong. Don’t do it.

But right now youre seeing a perfect example of .gov going after a selcet group of individuals who have literally broken no laws, haven’t committed any crimes that Im aware of, and are getting pilloried. And .gov paints them as greedy, manipulative, elitist snobs who deserve to be ‘taxed into the Stone Age’. A chilling example of .gov strategies to manipulate public opinion in favor of targetting a particular group of people. Watch closely, youre seeing the future.

Two is one, one is none, a bunch is a few

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

“One is none, two is one”.

I would edit that to add “A bunch is a few”.

Couldnt help myself. Picked up a secondary tertiary quadriary pentary another ‘extra’ Glock.

Who could resist? New in box Glock 17 with two mags. I have absolutely no qualms about purchasing it because, dammit, I went through this crap the first time they pulled this stunt in 1994. Swore I wasnt gonna get caught flat footed again and, Crom as my witness, I ain’t.

Sell the jet ski, skip lunch, cancel the fishing trip. Take the money. Guns and magazines. You won’t regret it.

Bike weather, shortages, economy, gun ownership

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I started to walk to the shop this morning and got about 100 yards before I thought “You know, it’s a nice day. Lets get the bike out.” So, unless the temperatures dip back into the low 30’s, we’re back into bicycle season. Although there didn’t seem to be any problems, I replaced both tubes today with Slime’d tubes. Always good to have a little extra something in your favor. Ninetynine percent of my bije riding is in town and the next time I have a flat due to nails or broken glass won’t be the first.

I paid what I thought at the time was an outrageous sum for my mountain bike about five years ago but as I’ve discovered in most things, I got what I paid for. The bike has held up exceptionally well over the years and has suited my needs quite well. I work close enough to where I live that theres really no practical reason to drive between the two unless its craptacular weather or I have a bunch of stuff to haul. If you haven’t gotten yourself a decent mountain bike, I highly advise getting one. The one I have now could use some tweaking…a nice matte OD finish, for example….but its been an excellent purchase. Im no enviroweenie or Peak Oil doomist but if I can save a few bucks by riding instead of driving, hey that’s more money to spend on other goodies.


Theres a bit more in the mainstream news about ammo shortages. Is there anyone at all who didn’t see this coming? Anyone? I get calls from people wanting to stock up on .223 or AR’s and they say something like “I figured I better stock up while I can” and these retards are surprised when I tell them “Good luck.” You don’t decide to buy your parachute after the #2 engine fails. I’ve been predicting all along that there would be 4 waves of panic buying: election, inauguration, proposed legislation, signing of legislation. We’re done with the first two and are creeping into the third. If you don’t have what you want now does this mean you’ll never have it? No, of course not. Despite the administrations obvious disdain for free-market principles this is still a somewhat capitalist society. You’ll always be able to get what you want. Always. You just have to be willing to pay the price. You can buy AR’s and ammo all day long right now…if youre willing to pay the outrageous prices. I decided a few weeks ago that I was done helping other people stock up on their AR’s and the like. Anyone who comes up to me today and says “I was thinking maybe I should get an AR and some magazines” is a Johnny-Come-Lately of the worst order. Go away, you’re triaged with the rest of the sheep. I’m only interested in working with those with a better sense of self-preservation.

As an aside, the shortage of reloading components and ammo has also extended to reloading gear. I’ve been having a difficult (but not impossible…yet) time getting in reloading dies for the usual calibers (223, 308, .30-06. 45ACP, etc). Had to jump through several vendors before finding what I needed. Interesting times we live in, eh?


Speaking of self-preservation. The economy is continuing its decline recovery decline recovery. The economy will recover, theres no doubt about that, the only question is whats left standing when it does recover….a bloated centrally planned Soviet-style economy, a laissez-faire capitalist system, a ‘somewhat regulated’ system or some bastard hybrid of all that.

Add to the economic situation and you have our old competitors, the Soviet Russians, making noises about establishing air bases off of Cuba. Ignoring for a minute why you would even need an air base in Cuba when you’ve got ballistic submarines and ICBM’s, is there anyone who thinks this would have even been an issue a year ago? Last time the Russians tried stuffing Cuba full of that sort of crap Jack Kennedy zipped up his pants long enough to take us all to the brink of World War Three. (And lest you think that the Cuban Missile Crisis was an unequivocal success for JFK, keep in mind that those missiles left Cuba only after we agreed to pull ours out of, I believe, Turkey and a few other places.) Additionally, Raoul Castro, in my opinion, is a lot more tractable than his brother and is probably not eager to get into a North Korean-style pissing contest with the US and the UN. He seems more interested in gradually thawing things, not making them worse. Whats more interesting here is the notion that our current administration is seen as the kind that would tolerate such saber rattling from second raters like the Russians.


The missus and I were discussing the attitude changes that come with gun ownership. Not the casual I-have-a-.22-in-the-closet ownership. More like the I-have-a-Sig220-with-a-Surefire type of ownership. She opined that when you develop the confidence to be less scared of the bad things in the world around you the bad things are more likely to leave you alone. I agree. Mike Tyson probably doesn’t worry about getting mugged, Alton Brown probably never worries about getting hungry and Angelina Jolie probably never worries about getting laid. People who own defensive guns and practice with them regularly probably don’t worry too much about the random home invasion or violent encounter nearly as much as the terrified unarmed city dweller. In our case theres probably some sort of subconsciously recognized aura of confidence or competence that makes potential predators want to move on to more sheepish prey. Fine with me. The less conflict in my life the better. If I live to be a hundred and never shoot at anything other than Bambi, I’ll be pleased.


Cannery trip next week. Always nice to spend some time with Those People. I just need to round out some odd numbers of stuff and then there wont be any real reason for me to go there except possibly entertainment and, I hate using this word, ‘fellowship’. Not the bible-thumping-bow-our-heads-and-pray type of fellowship but more of the hanging-out-with-people-who-think-like-me fellowship. That’s always nice.

Sportsmans Warehouse – why so empty?

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Im sure many of you are familiar with the Sportsmans Warehouse chain of sporting goods stores. We have one here that I visit every so often. Like almost all gun shops they are hit-or-miss in terms of bullets, primer, powder anda mmo availability these days due to the obvious high demand. What made things curious was that the non-consumable stuff was in short supply as well…for example, reloading presses, dies, holsters, etc, etc, were practically gone. Now, I know that the demand for reloading stuff is high and its hard to keep bullets on the shelves. However, I hadnt heard anything about Lee or Lyman or RCBS being backordered by months for things like presses and reloading scales. Had to be something else. I had heard a rumour that SW’s vendors were no longer doing business with them on anything other than a COD/cash basis.  Hmmmm. As I was prowling the store today I overheard the department manager talking to a former employer of his about why things were so bare. I listened as best I could and then when he was done talking went over and asked him exactly why the shelves were bare of things like tumbling media and other items.

Now, this is what he told me…might be accurate, might be total BS…but sift through it and take away what you will.

He said that SW was looking at being purchased by a Canadian outfit, AFU. It was hoped that this purchase would give SW the influx of capital it needs to restock the shelves. Since the company was in the ‘due diligence’ stage of possibly being purchased, re-ordering of stock was being put on hold. After all, if someone is going to buy your shop why would you fill it full of goods for them on your own dime? He said that since UFA is a Canadian outfit theyre focus would be on the stores close to the Canadian border. He also said that they closed a dozen stores this week and that if the purchase goes through some stores will remain as SW and some will be re-branded. A november 2008 press release confirms that UFA is interested in SW, but it appears that the process is dragging and may not go through. The department manager told me that if the purchase does not occur, SW may have to file for some sort of reorganizational protection and close more stores.

So, there you have it. The reasons SW has no bullets, powder or primers is because of the current panic buying and military situation. The reason for it not having alot of other stuff is, if this is to be believed, because they need a white knight.

I asked if the merchandise that was in the closed stores would be redistributed to other stores to fill inventory holes and was told that, no, it was all liquidated. So…if youre local SW goes under there might be an opportunity there.

And there you have it…rumour? Maybe. Makes sense though.

Ammo Security II

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

A trip to WalMart today. As expected, no bulk .22 LR. Every time me and the missus go to Wally World we pick up two bricks of .22 ammo. Always. Without fail. This is why we look at each other and say “Huh…thats wierd.” when everyone says theres no bulk .22 to be had. We can shrug and not worry about it because we have zillions of rounds of the stuff.

But….todays trip. Lets pretend that you dont reload your own ammo, and that you need just one box of .38…or one box of 9mm….or one box of .40. Here’s the entire pistol ammo selection at my local SuperWalMart an hour ago:

Lee Anniversary Kit if youre on a budget, RCBS Supreme kit if you dont mind spending the bucks. Either one will spare you the angst that the photo you see above would generate in someone who needs ammo and doesnt reload.

Trillion dollars – visual aid

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Picked this up from elsewhere, its a link to a visual representation of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

When proffessional career scumbags like Charles Schumer and company start talking a bout a trillion dollars like its nothing think about this image. Then think about all the money you could possibly earn over the span of your entire life and how it wont even make a dent in that pile.