Next Steps: Hot Lead!
Another keeper from Habcan on how to get by and get better:
Well, the ‘milsurp’ ammo has pretty well dried up and even ‘commercial’ is getting scarce in some calibers, assuming you can afford it. Component bullets are being cut off at the manufacturer’s level in calibers like .223 and .30 for 'the (Forever) War in Iraq/Afghanistan/wherever'. Pretty soon we won’t have to worry about being disarmed, because all the arms will be EMPTY. Or at least that’s how it looks up here in Kanuckistan. Oh, the once-a-year hunters are OK, they HAVE a box of ammo somewhere on a shelf and that’s good for the next ten years or so! Even those shooters who make an occasional trip to the range are pretty much OK: they have a hundred cases, a pound of powder, a box of primers, and TWO boxes of bullets and they RELOAD. They’re good for a few years yet. And there’s always the good ol’ .22LR, right?
So, having slid the slippery slope and ended up as a golfer who occasional shoots heavily-regulated registered and permitted firearms when and where allowed to by ‘authority’, what’s a poor subject to do?
Well, if he is a thinking person who has finally seen where all this is leading, he gets Old Betsy out of the politically-correct gunsafe, cleans her up, and decides mebbe he just oughta brush up some on his riflery.
Then, if he’s honest with himself, that first trip to the range will be pretty disheartening. Muscles and eyesight aren’t what they used to be, are they?
Practice. He’s gotta PRACTICE! All fired up to enroll in an Appleseed Course or similar, he suddenly runs into the money wall: 400 rounds of ammo? Ya gotta be kidding!! About $300 just for AMMO? No way, Jose! Back to the TV and the golf course.
But wait, what’s that you say? Cast bullets? Like they talk about endlessly on that so-knowledgeable forum at Cast Boolits Forum?
Naw, you can’t be serious! He knows about cast bullets - they are hard to make, take a lot of time, lead your bore, can’t be used in gas-operated semi-autos, and can’t possibly be driven any faster than about 2000 fps.
People, I’m here to tell you that every one of those foregoing statements is a fallacy. Not one of them is true.
I’ll assume that you folks here are handloaders. If not, you SHOULD be! Even if you are not actively engaged in it this moment, you DO have the equipment stashed, right? Just in case? Well, if you do not already have it, fill out your setup with casting equipment which includes at least one mould for each rifle. A variety is better. If you go the cheap route with LEE Precision, it will not break your bank. Initially used as per manufacturer’s setup instructions and properly maintained, LEE stuff will perform adequately-to-superbly for decades.
Ask me - been there, done that!
Next step? Get friendly with as many tire shops as you can and start collecting their scrap wheelweights. Do not make this a casual thing. Set up a collection time each week. Obsequiously, gratefully, and regularly, take all you can get. Each week? Yes, because if they do a lot of business you will break your back trying to empty their scrap pail! And start NOW! Lead is becoming a ‘commodity’ and more and more shops have found they can SELL a five-gallon pail for $25 to a dealer who will pick up. I have lost two such in the last year, but still manage to collect about six gallons a month from my ‘regulars’, saving them employee time and ‘environmental fees’ at the local dump. Winter is the time to stink up the garage and convert the raw material into fluxed clean ingots for your lead pot. I have well over a thousand now, and my team is working on more from the stocks I supply. So we have a potential of some dozens of shooters who are not going to run out of reliable ammo any time soon, if you count the extended families thus supplied.
Given that necessary equipment costs have been amortized, and that you have a good large stock of components laid by, you can shoot/practice with your centerfire rifles for about the cost of .22 rimfire ammo if you use cast ‘boolits’.
Here we have been working hard with fullbore loads, substituting boolits for the expensive and almost unobtainable jacketed ones, trying different sizing diameters or hardness without changing anything else in our ‘pet’ loads. We are not after benchrest winning accuracy, just 4 MOA stuff, which will stay on a 20” target to 500 yards. The scoffers should note that we have had the gleeful experience of finding some lead loads are good to go to 800, but that’s on a bigger target - yet still just about 4 MOA!!!
So far we have been successful with .30-30, .30-06, .303 Brit, .45-70/90, along with of course .45ACP and other such. We are nearly there with 7X57 and 7-08, 7-30 Waters, 7TC/U (lotsa 7’s!) and a few others. We are starting on .308, and mebbe gonna look at 6.5X55 and 6.5/.284. All guns newly acquired quickly get an accompanying mould. The folks over at Frugal's would be proud of us!
I want to stress that we have not tried for the greatest accuracy load obtainable in a certain firearm, but merely a substitute cast boolit to stuff down on top of the load we already use, requiring only a maximum allowable 4 MOA from it. Sure, there are ways to get even better accuracy, but they involve research and testing - and we simply do not have the TIME, people! Even testing and optimizing within our self-imposed design limits takes a bit of doing as it is. The advantage is that you can dragoon some young people into ‘helping’ you and give them a little instruction in the basics, just 'coincidentally' making more potential riflemen as you go.
So all you Riflemen out there, get scrounging and get casting. Load all week and then shoot all weekend for cheap. Hone your skills while the mutant ninja zombies hide in their squalid caves, and the complacent run dry! Take a kid along as a ‘spotter’ (and brass-picker!) and make it twice the fun.
I’ll see you on the ranges!