New Shooter Ammo Fund

The costs of running this blog are extremely minimal, about $20/year or so. Well within my meager student budget.
However, ammo costs a fair bit of money. While I wouldn’t think of asking readers to contribute money for my own personal ammo budget, I’d welcome any assistance that readers might be able to offer to help me provide ammo for new shooters that I take to the range. None of the ammo funded by such donations will be used for my personal use, though I may shoot a magazine or two so as to demonstrate things to new shooters.
I’ve put a small PayPal button in the right column where people can donate, if they wish. Of course, this is entirely voluntary, and nobody should feel the least bit compelled to donate. If you do donate, please let me know if you’d like your name (or pseudonym) and URL mentioned in posts, and I’ll gladly give you credit in the new shooter reports. Those who wish to stay anonymous will have their wishes respected.
I feel very awkward asking for donations of this type, and hope that nobody feels any less of me because of it. Unfortunately, donations to the New Shooter Ammo Fund are not tax deductible.
Update: I also thought of a different option: if people would be more comfortable donating ammunition itself rather than money, please contact me and I can provide my shipping address. The top priorities are .22LR (both super- and subsonic, though subs are preferred; Winchester Dyanpoints work excellently with my suppressor, are subsonic out of a 16″ barrel, and are not nearly as expensive as purpose-made subsonic ammo) and .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO (62 or 55 grain bullets are fine — I’ll gladly take even “cheap” stuff like Wolf). For safety purposes, I’m only willing to accept factory-new or commercial reloads (like Ultramax or Miwall), not individual reloads or handloads. Cheap imports are fine, so long as they’re safe to use and meet relevant specs (e.g. SAAMI, NATO, etc.).
Lower priority but still important are .30-06 Springfield (M2 Ball spec only, as it’s being fired from an M1 Garand which has very specific pressure tolerances), 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP.
In certain quantities, I may be able to help pick up part of the UPS shipping. Contact me for details if you’re interested.

Note to Self

Bullets that are slightly flattened on one side by the military’s bullet-puller (used for de-milling surplus ammo) make things exciting. When the seating die is crimping the case neck around the bullet, it can make it non-circular.
This causes rather amusing chambering issues, like when I tried to load and fire my very first shot from my new DPMS AR today. Some swearing ensued. A total of three rounds (out of the ~150 fired today) were out-of-round enough to cause a stoppage.
Moral of the story: surplus bullets are great for range trips and fun, but do not depend on them for anti-zombie use.

Reloading Goals

I have enough powder to load 2,500 rounds of .223 and enough bullets and primers to load about 1,500 rounds. I have no idea how many empty cases I have, but there’s at least 1,000.
I also have a whole bunch of empty AR magazines. Empty magazines don’t do much good, and I’m sick of cranking out hundreds of rounds the night before a trip to the range.
Thus, I’m setting a goal for myself: load at least 30 rounds of .223 every day until all of my AR magazines are full. After that, load 30 rounds a day until I’m out of components. If my finacial resources permit, then I’ll buy more components (with the exception of brass, which I pick up at the range) as required.
It’s not much, and it’ll probably take me a month or so to load up all my AR mags, but it’s not an impossible goal. Having ammo on-hand is always useful, whether it’s for an impromptu range trip or a zombie attack.

Dear Ammo Makers

Dear Ammo Makers,
Stop crimping primer pockets. Unless you’re the military, it’s completely unnecessary.
Even if you are the military, it’s probably not necessary. How often do primers push themselves out, anyway?
Finding Remington and Federal brass in my range pickup bags is always nice, as their primer pockets allow for the easy but firm seating of primers.
Anyway, knock it off. My fingers are killing me and I can’t afford a Dillon swager.

Followup: Reduced-recoil ammo works

Just got back from the shooty goodness this afternoon (pics and a write-up to come later).
Remington’s marketing department isn’t lying: reduced recoil 12ga shotshells (both slugs and 00 buckshot) are much more pleasant to shoot.
Sure, full-power loads are great, but for recreational, closer-range shooting, the reduced-recoil rounds make it much more fun. Now, if only they were less expensive…

Need bullets? Get them from River Valley Ordnance Works.

I’m not a fanboy, and so don’t usually give unsolicited endorsements of commercial vendors, but in this particular case I’m going to make an exception: for plinking-at-the-range bullets, it’s hard to beat the folks at River Valley Ordnance Works.
I was recently looking for some .223 Rem. bullets for plinking. Price, not high accuracy, was the main concern. All I could find with my regular sources (Midway, some local shops, etc.) was new-production bullets, which are reasonably priced, but still more expensive than I’d like.
A year or two ago, I stumbled across the RVOW site, was seriously tempted by their USGI surplus bullets and cases, but was short on money as so didn’t place an order. However, I bookmarked their site, and made a note to come back later when I wanted to order.
A month ago, I placed an order for 2,000 “light marks” machine-pulled M855 5.56mm bullets. It just arrived today, and a friend and I loaded 420 rounds* in a few hours on my single-stage press**.
Normally, I’d be peeved about it taking a month for an order to arrive, and I called once or twice to politely inquire as to the status of my order. They explained that they were quite busy shipping orders, mostly due to the upcoming election (that’s the reason most customers gave them for ordering), and apologized profusely for the delay. When my box arrived, there was a handwritten note inside apologizing for the delay, and explaining that they’re a bit short-handed due to the proprietor’s husband recently passing away from cancer — my frustration evaporated at once.
In normal situations, a month delay would be greatly annoying…but I can absolutely forgive a delay due to such tragic circumstances. My sincerest condolences go out to the friends and family of the proprietress’ husband.
If you do end up ordering from RVOW, there’s just a couple things to be aware of:

  • Call them instead of emailing them. I made a few inquiries by email, but they were never answered. I’m not sure if Tom, the person listed as the point of contact, is the recently-deceased husband, but it would make explain why emails weren’t being answered.
  • When you do call, you’ll likely get their voicemail. Leave your name, number, and a message briefly explaining what you wish to order, and they’ll get back to you in a day or so.
  • Their prices are different than what are listed on their website, as the site hasn’t been updated for a while. Call for the most up to date prices. For example, their site lists “small marks” M855 bullets as $35.00/1,000, but they’re selling now for $45/1,000.

I quite like supporting small businesses, particularly those involved with the shooting sports, and RVOW will definitely be getting some more orders for M855 and M2 Ball ammo from me in the future. I’m going to give them a quick call tomorrow to offer my condolences, and to offer my services (at no cost, of course) to help revamp their website to be a bit easier to navigate and have updated prices.
I have no connection with RVOW other than being a satisfied customer. I highly recommend them, as they’re good folks selling good products at good prices. What more could one ask for?
* That fills all of my AR-15 magazines. Clearly, I need more mags.
** Note to self: a primer pocket swager would be a fine investment, as my thumbs are killing me from using a deburring tool to try to remove military crimps on most of my once-fired brass.

Reduced recoil loads for self-defense?

I live in a small studio apartment, and my primary self-defense firearm is a 12ga Mossberg 500 shotgun.
For years, I’ve kept Winchester Super-X buckshot loaded in it, and have had good experience with said ammo at the range. While it certainly has been effective against water jugs and other range targets, the full-power loads really pound my shoulder after a while. Getting back on target is slower than I’d like.
When I was buying powder and primers today, I picked up some of Remington’s “Managed Recoil” slugs and 00 buckshot. The marketing information suggests that they maintain the same effectiveness as full-power loads out to about 40 yards (far more than I need), yet have about half the recoil. Sounds pretty good. I’ll save the slugs for the range and use the buckshot for self-defense at home.
Has anyone had any experience with reduced-recoil loads in a self-defense situation, real or simulated? I’d imagine that they’d be similarly effective at closer ranges, but would love to hear from others.

A-MERC Considered Harmful

Avoid “American Ammunition”-brand ammo. It carries the headstamp “A-MERC”.
Don’t confuse it with “American Eagle” by Federal Cartridge, which is excellent.
I’ve shot a diverse selection of ammo brands over the years, including Federal, Winchester, Remington, Ultramax, Miwall, PMC, Wolf, CCI, Barnaul, Black Hills, American Ammunition, IMI, domestic and imported military surplus, my own reloads, and so on. Brass and steel cased, it makes no difference to me. Both new and commercial reloads (also my own personal reloads). Basically, I’ve made an effort to shoot just about everything I’ve been able to get my hands on.
The vast majority of what I’ve shot has been excellent, high-quality ammunition…with the exception of American Ammunition.
A-MERC ammo is inconsistently loaded from round to round (velocities are all over the place), has intermittent bright flashes (some rounds flash more than others), and major problems with primer retention (primers push out of the pocket during normal firing and get stuck in the gun’s operating mechanism, jamming it), and some of the absolute worst brass I’ve ever dealt with (huge splits starting at the neck and going down the entire length of the case are common, as are smaller splits confined only to the body of the case).
Splits in cases, particularly on cases that have been reloaded several times, occur occasionally and haven’t really caused many problems for me — I note the split when I inspect my spent brass and toss it into my “scrap brass” bucket. I’ve never once had a case split on a factory-new cartridge from any manufacturer…except A-MERC, which routinely splits in dramatic ways on a regular basis.
It is my opinion that A-MERC ammunition is not only low-quality ammo, but that it is unsafe and dangerous to shoot. I have no qualms with shooting steel-cased, military surplus ammo through any of my guns…but I absolutely forbid American Ammo. No exceptions.
Consider yourself warned.