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.

Reloading Woes

I got another case stuck in my .223 die.
After the first few times doing this, I built a stuck case remover: drill out the primer pocket, tap it, then use a threaded bolt to pull it out. Simple, quick, and easy.
Unfortunately, it requires that the expander pin not be in the case. In this case, it’s well and truly stuck and the pin is still there…and blocks my drill from being able to drill through the primer pocket.
I sheepishly wrote a check to Lee for $4 and will drop the die in the mail tomorrow. If the last time this happened (about a year ago) is any indication, they don’t bother to extract them, but rather just send you a new one and the $4 is the cover return shipping. Not a bad deal.
Moral of the story: use enough case lube.

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.

Slow Posting

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. I’ve been stuck in the lab playing with Happy Fun Radioactive Sources.
Evidently the muse is not too happy about being around radiation, even low-level sources.
In order to keep this mildly gun-related, the physics department has numerous lead bricks. I need to find out where they get them, and if they’re priced any less than lead ingots being sold at gun-related vendors. If so, it’d make bullet casting a bit less pricey. It sure beats picking up wheel weights on the road, and bricks stack really well.

Lee Die Locking Rings

I was recently informed that Lee sells their die locking rings as a separate product, rather than only including them with their dies.
I ordered a three-pack of their rings (same price as a single RCBS ring) and installed two of them on my RCBS .223 Rem dies. I’m exceedingly happy: I’ve never liked the set-screw rings, as the set screw always seems to get stripped and the rings never stay put. The Lee rings have a rubber o-ring rather than a set screw, and maintain a solid grip on the dies. In my experience, they hold better than the set-screw rings.
So long as one inserts or removes the die from the press by turning the ring (rather than the die), the Lee rings won’t come out of adjustment. Additionally, the metal ring never touches the press itself, preventing any scratching of the finish of the press. Useful for people who like their presses looking nice.
I’ve always been a big fan of Lee products, as their products are inexpensive and high-quality, they’re a small/family run business, their decapping pins are all but impossible to break (even when a Berdan-primed case gets in the mix), and so on. Sure, I own some RCBS and other brand products, but I find myself buying more Lee stuff than anything else. (Great, now I’m going to spark a Red vs. Blue vs. Green vs. Red flamewar.)

Simple Pleasures

I’ve always thought that tumbling cases is a bit like alchemy: dirty, range-weary cases go into a machine, a few hours pass, and gleaming, golden metal emerges, still warm from friction with the crushed walnut shells.
The reloading process, including tumbling cases, is an intensely satisfying thing: I’m actually making something with my own hands – something that would not exist without my efforts.
The fact that most of the process involves handling a shiny yellow metal is not lost on that primal part of me that stirs at the sight of gold.