Reloading for 3Gun – High Volume Shooting On The Cheap
Not long after starting to shoot 3Gun I realized that reloading would be an off the course skillset I would soon need to acquire. Over the last ten years I have learned how to become more efficient, accurate and safe by studying and learning from other shooters. I am currently loading .40S&W and 9mm for $.04/round and .223 $.18-$.20/round for match-grade to short range rounds (all minus cost of reloading equipment of course). Just some thoughts on some of the current practices I use.
Don’t pay for it… Some might say this is obvious, but many pay for brass when they can trade or find it for no cost. Additionally, I do not suggest hanging around after matches to “graze” for brass or pick up brass at matches as both tend to cause fellow shooters to fly into fits of eye rolling and less than flattering nickname development for you. I have made very nice with indoor range owners, training specialists with police departments, friends who don’t reload, etc. and have an ample supply of quality brass in common calibers.
Powder & Primers
The less-than-friendly political climate has been wonderful for firearm related industry members over the last six years and some have even moved to offer top-sales award to the current administration (sarcasm). Needless to say, it has been tough to beat hoarders to the stores or websites in order to find ample supplies of powder and primers. Here is my best advice – Create a Team! That’s right, a team of individuals who utilize common components and can scour the Internet and gun shops far and wide. This network not only helps to identify sources of components, they also provide the team with the ability to buy in bulk if you cannot afford kegs of powder, cases of primers and bullets. My common haunts outside of my network include www.gunbot.net and my local gun shop (Star Arms in Stephenville, Texas), which does a great job of keeping an eye out for me when I am looking for something specific. Just a note here: Keep in mind that your local gun shop can take care of you if you take care of them. Bring people in who are looking to purchase, go in and hang out just to visit, offer to help with events. Avoid always walking in with your hand out and “good” storeowners tend to reciprocate with kindness.
The projectile has been just as elusive as other components, but the latest political grandstanding pushed me into the alloy game. Once again, I teamed up with someone who has a common interest. My neighbor is a “body man” at the local Chevrolet dealership and boy does he know all of the mechanics, tire shop owners and automobile related business for five counties. Suffice to say, he can get all of the tire weights we need to cast pistol bullets. Our agreement is that he gathers, processes and forms all of the alloy into muffin pan ingots and I purchased all of the furnace and casting equipment. We have a great time doing both and it is common to see us going between driveways and garages as we have bullet-casting parties. Yes, our wives make sure that respirators and ventilation are a part of the process. AND, another member of our network reps for 3M and got us the specific respirator mask cartridges that filter lead fume – the network continues to work well. If I am buying bullets for pistols, I only shoot Precision Bullets ( www.precisionbullets.com ), which are swaged lead coated with an amazing proprietary film that prevents leading of barrels, and I buy them in 2500 round quantities. Rifle bullets are a different story, but the best method I have found is to 1) buy in bulk – upwards of 6000 rounds for .223; and 2) make friends with a rep for your favorite bullet company. I tend to get the bulk price and any specials the rep is authorized to offer. Keep an eye on www.gunbot.net for inexpensive bullets as well.
Keep in mind that I am just one guy who has a unique set of experiences, but it has all worked well for me. I shoot as much as I want, but spend the money for it as well. It’s never cheaper, you just get to shoot more! The guy who got me into reloading taught me that. He also taught me that all of us develop our own system of gathering components, equipment and creation of processes. You are only doing it wrong if you are creating unsafe situations for yourself or those around you. I am not an expert, but am happy to help those getting started. I got started because of the kindness of others and am happy to give back. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know how I go about any of my reloading.