Three little letters that have been shaping us since the dawn of civilization.
The problem with war, though, is that it’s all too easy to forget that campaigns aren’t just fought overseas.
The deadliest part of war is forgetting where the trenches really are: here, every day, all around us. And these days, there’s no such thing as playing it too safe.
It only takes one look at the news to see the world we live in is in pretty rough shape. While your average citizen may be content sitting idly by, or planting trees, you know all too well the importance of preparing for the worst.
Today, the front-line starts the second you step out of your house. Where dogfights aren’t fought with planes, but with media spin doctors.
While none of us asked for war, but war showed up anyways. And it’s worth doing whether you’re gearing up for a worst case scenario or just wish to practice the fine art of self-reliance.
From having shotshell loading supplies ready for casting bullets and measuring out powder, whether it’s for hunting down food for your loved ones or having the Calvary strapped and loaded to your hip, knowing how to make your own bullets is one of these skills.
Part 1: Where To Start
If there is one thing preppers are all too aware of, it’s ammo shortages.
With tragedy after tragedy filling the news, it’s only natural to want a topped off your supply of ammunition. The catch is, major retailers now impose regulations on when you can buy and, worse, how many you can purchase in one day.
With Walmart still imposing a three-box max, it’s time to hunker down, start reloading the brass, and figure out how to make your own bullets.
Deciding where to start with making your own bullets, however, is overwhelming. The good news is, the supplies you need to make bullets are ones you’ll likely already have or will at least be able to purchase on the cheap.
We have some major advantages over those who lived in colonial America, so there’s no need to melt your family heirlooms into life-saving ammunition.
Instead, one of the first pieces of handloading supplies you need is a tried and true bullet reloader such as an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme.
Here’s a quick intro video for this high-quality reloader.
A reloader is a simple, mechanical press. The RCBS Rock Chucker allows you to take the spent brass littering your feet after a day at the range and turn it back into fire-ready live ammunition.
Not only is reloading ammunition a fantastic skill to master for those nightmarish worst-case scenarios, it is also a fine way to save money. Alternately known as hand loading, reloading gives you the freedom to spend your hard-earned money on other survival necessities.
At a little over $100, the RCBS Rock Chucker will pay for itself in no time at all.
Bullets and Money
Saving dollars is important so you may be asking whether learning how to make your own bullets is just an expensive hobby.
The truth is, with factory ammo costing around $20 for fifty rounds, you can buy five hundred Hornady 124 grain bullets for $60; you can buy one thousand primers for around $30; for $15 – $25 you can buy one pound of Hodgdon Titegroup powder, enough powder for 1500 rounds; and chances are, while you can buy brass separate, you can either recycle casings you’ve fired off yourself or you can sweep them off the floor at the range.
It comes down to whether or not you want to keep shelling out money for box after box of commercial ammunition or invest in handloading supplies that will keep you shooting long after the retailers go dark.
Part 2: Taking Action
How To Make Your Own Bullets
I believe it was Alexander Pope who said,
To shoot is human, to make your own bullets is divine. Let’s be honest, we were all beginners at one point or another.
At its simplest, handloading ammo is just recreating the classic bullet we all know and love: primer, powder, bullet.
Reloaders just take the spent case, clean it, put a new primer on it, add new powder then put a new bullet on.
Let’s say you want to earn your badge as a Reloader by making some 9mm ammunition.
After you have your new RCBS Rock Chucker, as much brass as you want to fill, primers, powder, and bullets, there are only a handful of cursory items you’ll need before you are ready to go.
I highly recommend getting all gear you need as one package. Here’s the RCBS 9278 Explorer Plus that has every piece of reloading tool you need to get started.
Lastly, you need a copy of the Lyman Reloading Handbook that outlines the exact parameters for the particular bullet you’re trying to make.
The reloading process works like this:
Step 1: First things first, you’re going to want to prep your brass.
To save time you’ll want to clean them by putting them in an RCBS Tumbler. Once the brass is clean, you’re going to want to line them up on an RCBS lube pad and rub them down.
Step 2: Get rid of those used primers.
The best part of the RCBS Rock Chucker is that it does a lot of the work for you which is vital for resizing and decapping.
Just load your spent casing, pull the lever, and repeat. There are different types of reloaders you can use, but if you are using the RCBS Rock Chucker then it’s a high-quality single stage press.
A single stage press only performs one function of reloading at a time. There are other more expensive multi-stage presses (such as the Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive) available to help speed things up.
Step 3: Clean the spent primer out.
After you’ve run the shells through the press and removed the old primer, it’s time to use your brush to clean out the burnt powder. A primer pocket cleaning tool works best for this.
Multi-stage units do this automatically but doing it by hand will allow you to properly clean the shell out. This will afford you the confidence that you are working with a proper degree of safety.
Step 4: New primers.
There are a couple of different options when it comes to putting primers back on the shells.
You can use an adapter with your press or others prefer to do it by hand using a hand priming tool. This is the extra step that allows you to make sure the shell is properly cleaned.
Step 5: Add the bang.
Now it’s time to add the ingredient that brings the bullet to life: powder.
It is very, very important to make sure you put the right amount in. Some people complain that regulations have been imposed to water down the kick of a modern bullet, but unless you want to blow your hand off, you’re going to want to stick to the suggested amount.
For the purpose of this article and when dealing with 9mm rounds, one book calls for a range of 6.3 and 6.8 grains of powder per round. Set the reloader, run a test to make sure it’s putting out the correct amount, then run the rest of your shells through.
An easy way to make sure you’re getting the correct amount of powder is to have a small but accurate RCBS scale nearby that you can use for testing purposes.
Step 6: Ready the bullets.
At this point, if you haven’t already put it back, you’re going to want to put the indexing bar back in. This will allow the reloader to run through each of its functions properly.
Step 7: Run it through.
Place the cleaned, primed shell in the reloader and pull the lever. Each pull will advance the bullet to the next function.
After the powder drops in, place the bullet on top and pull the lever again. This will secure the bullet into the shell. One more pull of the lever and the reloader will crimp the shell down and sink the bullet to the proper depth.
Step 8: Measure the bullets with a caliper.
This is to make sure that the final bullet is the correct length and will fit properly into your firearm as per the recipe you’re following.
Step 9: Stockpile and survive.
With these basic tools and this simple knowledge, you’ll never be caught in want of ammo again.
For a more intensive look at the process and in case you’re a visual learner heres an excellent video breaking down the process step by step.
Part 3: Endgame
Making your own bullets doesn’t have to stop at 9mm, however. In fact, that’s half the fun of it. Plus, now that you know the basics of ammunition production, you can learn how to cast all your own bullets.
This will allow for maximum freedom with regards to caliber and bullet style.
Casting Lead Bullets
Grab those family heirlooms melt them down because it’s time to try casting lead bullets. Casting your own bullets gives you the added benefit of being able to make any size, shape, and variation you want.
The other benefit of casting your own bullets (specifically making lead bullets) is that, much like reusing brass shells, you can collect the lead you’ve fired, melt it back down, and fire it again and again.
It’s a tried and true method going back to the wagon trail where our forefathers hunted bison with recycled lead rounds. The trick is finding lead.
While buying it wholesale is an option, there are other cheaper ways of finding scrap lead that you can cast however you see fit.
Many junkyards and auto shops will have excess pieces laying around that you can get your hands on.
In a similar fashion to crafting 9mm rounds, once you buy the necessary tools for making lead bullets, it quickly becomes an operation that pays for itself.
Here’s a good video detailing the process of casting your own bullets:
Shotgun Reloading Supplies
If rifles aren’t your style, you can venture into the wide and wonderful world of shotguns.
Learning how to reuse your shotgun shells is every bit as valuable as learning how to craft bullets or make ammo.
As survivors, we know how important it is to keep a variety of ammunition. Shotguns are no different.
Much like crafting small caliber ammo, shotgun reloading supplies are simply a hull, the primer, the powder, the wad, and the shot.
Here’s a step by step video to help you learn shotgun shell reloading:
In the end, it’s about more than economy since the art of handloading ammo is a great learning experience in self-reliance. Because after all, a family that makes bullets together is a family that survives.P.s. -For A Limited Time Only -Get a FREE FireHawk Tactical Flashlight For Visiting Skilled Survival! Just $3.49 s&h. Click Here To Learn More.