SHOOTIN' CHEAP PART IV: FEEDING THE GUNS
If you have a good quality gun and you take care of it then you'll be able to shoot thousands upon thousands of rounds through it before it wears out. The cost of the ammo should be several times the cost of the gun. So how do you reduce the cost of gun fuel? There's four ways to do this but, like most things in life, there's both good and bad that comes with each choice.
Inexpensive Factory Loads
There are firms out there that sell newly loaded, factory fresh ammunition at lower than average prices. The king of the discount factory loads is Blazer
. Made with aluminim cases, the rounds cannot be reloaded after fired. Blazer produces good quality practice ammo for about 10% less then it's nearest competitor.
The down side is that it's only a 10% savings. You can do better, sometimes MUCH better. Still, the only other way to get a decent price on small quantities of factory fresh ammo is by waiting until your local gun store is offering a sale to get rid of excess stock. Waiting for a sale does work, but you have to be in the right place at the right time.
There are some companies out there that sell military surplus ammunition. Stuff that's been sitting in a warehouse in Syria or Russia or Egypt since the first Arab/Israeli war but is still (mostly) good. The king of the military surplus firms is Wolf Performance
. They pull the rounds out of the mildewy packages and inspect them before repacking for sale. This means that reliability is pretty good, and you don't have a bunch of mildew smell and silverfish
coming off of the packaging. Savings of 30% can be had.
The down side is that it's STILL ammo that was originally loaded in some crappy 3rd world sweatshop 40 or 50 years ago. Although generally reliable the performance can be less then stellar. Some modern guns can also be made with tighter tolerances than the AK-47's that the Comrades were planning on shooting, so imperfections that didn't matter to Mother Russia will cause your new U.S. made gun to jam. Buy a few test boxes and fire them before making a commitment to military surplus.
Buying in Bulk
There are many
websites out there offering good deals on bulk ammunition. Savings can be as high as 20% if you shop around and choose the right place to buy. Many local gunstores also offer discounts on bulk purchases, and you can always find some guy on tha last day of a gun show who's willing to make a good deal on ammo as long as he doesn't have to load the stuff back in the truck (look for the old and fat dealers with bad backs). If you like factory loads because they're hassle free then this is the way to go.
The disadvantages are that you'll have to buy a large amount to really cash in on the savings. This means that you have to save up a few hundred dollars for the initial purchase if it's going to be worth your while. The other problem is that the online ammo dealers won't ship to certain parts of the country (coughLosAngelescough). If you live in the land of granola and gun-haters then you'll just have to travel to a gun show outside of their sphere of influence to buy some shooting supplies.
The parts of a round are bullet, casing, powder and primer (you can see a diagram here
, which is a gun control website [tee hee]). The most expensive part is the brass, and it can be reloaded ten or twenty times before it wears out. Buying all of the other components (primer, powder and bullet) in bulk will decrease costs even further. Saving of 75% are not uncommon. All you need to get started is to buy a reloading guide
and some reloading equipment
. The most basic equipment
can cost less than $100 USD.
The disadvantage to this is that it takes time. Bunches of time. With the basic equipment you can reload 50-75 rounds in an hour. With fancier and more expensive equipment
you can do at least 5 times that number. Pretty soon you'll start to wonder why you're spending so much time reloading when you can be at the range shooting. You'll spend the money for the better gear, and start reloading hundreds of rounds in an evening, and then you'll just have to go and shoot them so you can free up some shelf space. Then you'll want to reload the spent cases because only a slob has dirty brass around the house. But then your shelves will be groaning with rounds! And you'll have to shoot some just to cycle out the old stuff (hey, it's almost three days old!)! Then you'll have to reload the spent brass!
If you'll excuse me I have 1,000 rounds that's been sitting there, laughing at me, for the better past of a week. Time to go to the range.