Mag degreasing

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Spent the afternoon disassembling, degreasing, lubing, and re-assembling a couple dozen surplus Uzi magazines. There is very little as annoying, dirty and slightly hazardous as degreasing military surplus. See, you figure you could just wipe down the mags with solvent and be done with it. Nope, gotta pull the mag apart and degrease the inside as well. And that is where it becomes a pain in the posterior. I stripped the mags, put them in an empty one-gallon pickle jar, filled it halfway with kerosene and laid it lengthwise to allow the mags to soak. Gave it a good shake every so often to move stuff around. Waited a while, fished ‘em out, laid ‘em in the sink and poured boiling water over them. The water washed away the kerosene and heated the mags up to the point that they dried themselves…no moisture. Wipe things down with a touch of Hoppes, re-assemble, and good to go.

Except, of course, I smell like a fuel leak.

FMJ v. (premium) JHP

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Ammo is, naturally enough, a topic that comes up in the preparedness forums fairly often. Skipping past the usual “what caliber should I have for my SHTF pistol” nonsense, one of the more common questions is what type of ammo to keep around. Should you go long on the FMJ/Ball ammo or stock up on the JHP and ‘Personal Defense’ stuff?

I go long on the FMJ/Ball stuff, and keep a very small fraction of our stockpiled centerfire ammo as JHP’s.

Most military ammo is FMJ, right? So for the calibers where surplus military ammo is available we wind up with a lot of FMJ. Nothing wrong with that. Pretty much any rifle bullet, FMJ or not, traveling at a couple times the speed of sound will radically change someone’s immediate plans. In handguns the majority of our autopistol ammo is FMJ with probably less than 20%  as JHP or ‘defense’ ammo. Why? Couple reasons.

Although we have a decent amount of thundertoys on hand, there is no guarantee that the guns we’ll have will be our own guns. Might pick up a 1911 someone trades to for some freezedrieds, might come across an SKS in someones garage, might find a repairable Mosin Nagant in the back of a wrecked pickup truck. In short, you never know what guns you may stumble across. FMJ or Ball ammo is the ‘Type O-  Universal Donor’ of bullet styles. If a gun won’t work with quality FMJ ammo it probably won’t work better with anything else. (Of course, I’m sure there’ll be comments from folks saying they used to own a gun that bobbled every FMJ but shot hollowpoints perfectly. May be, but broadly speaking if a gun can’t handle FMJ it’s probably not going to do great with the more unusual bullet shapes like the hollowpoints or softpoints.)

“But..but..if you use FMJ ammo you’ll be giving up stopping power!” Well, maybe. But while FMJ may (or may not, depending on whose studies you review) have less stopping power than an FMJ, I can guarantee you that FMJ has more stopping power than JHP that nosedived into the feed ramp.

Interestingly, there is a happy medium in this ballistic mess. Years ago Federal came out with the very odd concept of an expanding FMJ. A contradiction of terms? The bullet has the profile of an FMJ but the front of the bullet, under the jacket, is filled with marshmallow or some similar gunk. The round feeds like an FMJ but when it hits something it compresses and expands like a softpoint of JHP. Very cool. Sadly, not something I can afford to stockpile in bulk. However, it seems like a wonderful choice for folks who are shooting something that can be finicky about bullet shapes. Cough*1911*cough.

The personal defense grade handgun ammo isn’t cheap. Where I can stock 9mm FMJ all day long at around $0.12@, stuff like HydraShocks, SCT, XTP or even Silvertips are going to be prohibitively expensive for anything other than a few hundred rounds. For carrying around day-to-day, I have some snazzy hollowpoints in the Glock, but once they’re gone it’ll be a diet of 115 gr. FMJ. On the other hand, to have shot off all the defensive hollowpoint ammo would mean that there must have been one amazing post -apocalyptic episode.

If I had the money, I’d do an even mix of FMJ and JHP. Hmm…lemme grab a catalog and do some comaprisons….

  • Federal American Eagle 9mm is $0.22@ vs. Federal Hydra Shock 9mm at about $1@…
  • Win. USA Brand 9mm is $0.34@ vs. SX JHP at $0.76@….
  • Rem. UMC 9mm is $0.32@ vs. Golden Sabre at $0.96@…
  • Speer Blazer 9mm is $.021@ vs. Gold Dot @ $1.05@….

So at its most generous, youre looking at around 2x the price for defense-grade pistol ammo and in a worst case almost 5x the price. Or, put another way, five cases (5000) of American Eagle FMJ will cost you one case (1000) of HydraShocks. So, for my money, I could have 1000 rounds or 5000 rounds. Easy to say I’ll take the FMJ when you put it that way. But, honestly, I would go for a mix of something like 20:80 of premium JHP:FMJ.

Now, where it gets really interesting is when you start reloading. I’ve a lovely Dillon 1050 and delaer pricing with the bullet companies. My cost difference on 5000 JHP for reloading versus 5000 FMJ for reloading is about, mmmm, maybe seven cents a bullet…meaning that to assemble a 9mm FMJ is $0.12 versus about $0.20 for a quality JHP. Or, put another way, I can reload JHP ammo with ‘brand name’ defensive hollowpoints (Gold Dots, XTP, etc) for about the same cost as buying loaded FMJ ammo.

Even with those numbers, I tend to stock FMJ in far greater quantities than JHP. My two reasons are primarily concerns about functionality in a very wide variety of platforms, and getting the most ‘bang for my buck’ – I want to maximize the amount of ammo my dollar gets me. At the same time, I recognize that ammo performance isnt to be disregarded and try to keep enough high-end ammo on hand to keep our favorite daily carry guns stoked for quite a while.

There ya go. Your mileage may vary.