Tag Archives: ammo shortage

Ammo Shortage Update

 

Interesting news yesterday – a colleague stopped by my desk at the cubicle farm to share a hot tip: our local Wal-Marts in about a 50 mile radius are getting ammunition shipments daily- even the elusive .22 LR bulk packs. Prices are also at familiar, pre-panic retail prices.

The downside: 3 box per person limit- but that's what we can expect to endure until a surplus returns to the land of brick and mortars- and the limit is the reason the shelves aren't picked clean by the first panic buyer who sees them.

After sharing this info with familiar faces at my LGS (local gun store) I heard some rumors on how this happened:

  • Both Wal-Mart and Gander Mountain are rumored to have funded additional factory buildings for large manufacturers like Winchester and ATK – in exchange for exclusive rights to the rounds produced by those facilities.

It's a good story- however I'm reluctant to believe it. The primary reason for my doubt is that a move like this should be big news. I can't find a mention of this online or on either company's corporate site. No corroboration= not true over here. If you have sources to confirm these rumors please post links in the comments section.

Also do your best to refrain from paying inflated ammo prices– it will help drive liquidation of the hoarder stashes that are paying high prices. There is no reason to pay $6 for a box of 50 .22 rounds.

 

My current dry fire drill

Road construction derailed my trip to the local range earlier this week. Now what? For me it becomes 25 good dry fire reps. Recently I started using the second drill shown in this video- the empty shell method(keep a couple in your pocket to keep the drill moving). You get a few ancillary benefits from this drill:

  • You must hold the gun steady the whole time or the shell will fall
  • Include presentation in your reps. This requires a ton of stability the entire time you clasp the support hand and raise the pistol to your sight picture. This practice can help if you have to take a close-proximity defensive shot or shoot from a restricted position- like inside your vehicle
  • Trigger press needs to stay smooth throughout this drill- that balancing shell is not going to stay upright

 

Important tip when making your own BLK Brass

The parent cartridge of the BLK is 5.56 NATO. You can use everything off a standard 5.56 AR-15 for a BLK rifle except the barrel- even 5.56 brass can be cut down and resized for use in your Blackout rifle.

kR-15.com reader, reloader (and now co-author as he is quoted below) RBC recently shared the challenges he ran into trying to make his own BLK brass. It's helpful information for anyone who makes their own brass from 5.56 cases.

RBC was having very frequent failure-to-chamber and jamming problems with his cartridges.

“I’ll get one or two round that feeds and chambers perfectly, and then get 4-5 that feed, but won’t chamber, and seize up hard in the chamber. A real booger to get out without breaking anything. all rounds seem to feed well, but fail to fully chamber and lock the bolt.

Cases were trimmed to 1.358, the middle of the tolerance, and that specified for the Barnes 110 GR Tac-TX, and verified by at least one commercial re-formed case producer I’ve talked to.

I’ve used PCT go and no-go gauges to check headspace, as well as the Wilson case gauge, all of which checks out, and says everything SHOULD fit.”

When specs are verified by multiple sources and you have eliminated some possible causes it's time to be methodical: double-check your specs and flex those troubleshooting muscles. That's exactly what RBC did:

“The SAAMI cartridge length specification calls for 1.368 +0.000 -0.020, so the lower limit would be 1.348. 1.358 is right in the middle. As I said, Barnes calls for 1.358 shell case length for their highly regarded 110GR Tac-TX. So I milled the brass down to 1.358 +- 0.001, deburred, and cleaned it.

When I was now getting a 50% failure rate chambering when using my Lee dies, I went and bought a set of RCBS small base dies, thinking the cartridges just needed to be sized smaller than the Lee dies, and then fire formed to fit my chamber.”

This still didn't solve the problem. The dies are now officially eliminated from possible causes. The Go/No-Go gauges covered the chamber….how about the brass itself?

The brass was cut down from some once-fired PMC .223 shells I had laying around forever.

The type of brass you use can make a HUGE difference because of the case wall thickness. When you cut down 5.56 brass to 300 BLK length case wall thickness variance becomes case neck thickness variance. Experience varies with the brass but PMC and S&B are known to have this problem in certain lots. I have PMC resized brass I purchased commerically – it works great but I don't know if it was presorted or not.

“If you have a .308 bullet, seated into a cartridge with 0.015 thick brass at the neck, then you end up with .338 outside diameter at the case mouth, when it should be .334 max. Houston, we have a problem. So I separated out all the brass with a thickness of 0.013 or less, loaded them up, and, lo and behold, every one of them feeds and chambers perfectly. Problem solved. [Insert big sigh of relief here]”

 

Updated Ammo Outlook (Spring 2013)

A few months ago the ammo drought was forecast to stretch all the way into November before one could expect to find reloading components and ammo gracing the shelves of their LGS. The good news: ammo and components are appearing now and then. However there are quotas in place and you have to work at it: waiting for stores to open so you can be first; calling around to lots of places; its far from convenient right now. Why are things still like this? After all we only added millions of new gun owners to the pool.

  • Internet retailers not caught up (or are caught up for minutes then sold out)
  • The vendors that actually have ammo/components are price gouging at insance levels or leveraging quotas (although many are also not price gouging). 2 boxes of ammo is not exactly a windfall when an IPSC event has a minimum 100rd requirement
  • Internet orders get pricy w. hazmat fees: Cabelas has a 2lb limit on powder right now. Handling fees raise the price to just about double the retail price of 8 months ago.

I talked to a contact at Berrys mfg last week. He said all current efforts are on serving big suppliers like Cabellas, Chattanooga, and Midway USA. They expect to have retail supplies back in 2 months. So mid-July is the hopeful date we can see more than .45-70 and .38 bullets. back at bulk pricing.

Remington invested $32million on an expansion to their ammo manufacturing facility in Arkansas. It will take until Q2 2014 to be fully operational. That's a pretty long-ranging investment in increased production.

At the NRA Convention manufacturers said that they don't know when supply and demand will reverse places again. I recently spoke with some contacts who supply components to ammo manufacturers; they view this as sustainable but only short term- potentially until a 2A-friendly candidate is in White House.

Speaking of the White House, their DHS lackeys continue to do their best to further constrain consumer supplies.

The Good: You can find ammo and even components oday if youre saavy and either willing to work to find it or willing to pay a premium price.

The Bad: Unconstrained supplies and ammo are not likely to appear until November or later.

How to fix it: If we let the Progs/Dems win the midterm elections in the Senate and/or take the House we will have further problems finding ammo (not to mention risk some bad new gun control laws). Keep your voice heard in Washington. Vote smart and encourage your friends and family to vote- do it for ammo's sake.

 

MCN on the M&P-15/22

The video review was more compelling than seeing these at the LGS. I'm still after a Troy chassis for a 10-22 instead. This does look like a fun rifle though. Perfect for a .22 steel target plinking range.

.40 S&W target load recipe

Unless this is your first visit to this site you likely have a sense that I believe in the phrase Train to Maintain. That equates to some level of live fire practice and live fire requires live ammo. This is the recipe I use for my training ammo. It's based on efficiency- don't get wild with your powder, don't get wild with a heavy practice projectile. The most reasonably priced projectiles I like to work with for my .40 are 135gr FMJs from Berry's Mfg. Cheaper projectiles can be found- for example lead wadcutters can be had for half the price- but I just like the glimmer of the copper jackets.

Reloading Press

I run this load recipe on my Lee Precision Pro 1000 Press and load once-fired brass (both factory and re-mans) along with a bunch of range brass I foraged from various ranges. If you're starting out with a caliber range brass can be a really useful way to build up your brass on the cheap- just be sure to scrutinize those empties for damage and compliance with spec.

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Load Data

Caliber: .40 S&W

Projectile: 135gr FMJ

Primer: Winchester Small Pistol Primers

Powder: Winchester 231 or HP-38

Measure: 6.3gr

Lee Auto-Disc setting: 0.57

Min OAL: 1.125 in.

Max OAL: 1.135 in.

KR-15 optimal OAL: 1.130 in.

I calibrate my bullet seating to hit the middle of the tolerance- theoretically that will result in more usable rounds because the variance in either direction is the most forgiving.

 

Training When You Can’t Find Ammo

Lets try this article again but without the April Fool’s absurdities….Ammo is scarce so keeping your skills sharp is a challenge. Here are some options that are popular for training (The LE crowd uses many of these) along with the Pros and Cons for each option.

Mouse Gun option

Troy-Chassis-T-22-Tactical-1

Lots of training weapons are available that feature controls identical to field weapons but take advantage of low-cost rimfire ammo like 22LR (current supply shortage not withstanding). A particularly sexy option is the 10/22 Troy Industries Chassis or a Smith & Wesson M&P-22. These are sold as plinking guns and and the high quality ones are sold as training tools.

There are also several ‘training’  mods/conversion kits for AR-15 and pistol platforms that use nearly standard mags. These also can be nice because they allow you to use same rifle and sighting system as your standard weapon system because it IS your standard rig.

Mouse Gun PROS:

  • Live fire beats dry fire every single time
  • With high-quality trainers or kits you can use your typical rig or realistic weapon controls to minimize training scars
  • Accuracy is similar since the trajectory on 5.56 and 22LR is similar
  • When you can find it, ammo is cheap and abundant

Mouse Gun CONS:

  • Follow-up shots are unrealistic because the recoil of live fire can’t be simulated
  • 22LR Ammo can be unreliable (especially when you go cheap like I do- I love buying 22LR at $.04 per round)
  • Speaking of 22LR ammo, nowadays you can’t find ammo unless you pay $.015-$.040 /rd when $.03-$.06 was going rate 6 mos ago
  • 22LR is a dirty round! Cleaning becomes a mandatory event after each session due to all the fouling caused by this round.

Verdict: Mouse guns can be very effective but should be supplemented with live fire on your primary weapon system- think of it as extra reps while conserving that AR fuel.

Air soft option

kwa_lm4_ptr_01_517_215_100

It sounds ridiculous at first mention- how could airsoft be a suitable option for live fire simulation? Actually, it is pretty feasible. In fact Tatsuya Sakai won the 2004 Steel training at home in Japan with an airsoft pistol. Pistols are illegal in Japan so this was the only option. Tatsuya came over to California about a month before the match, bought a real pistol and that was all it took to rocket to first place and become the new World Speed Shooting champ. A growing number of LE trainers are using airsoft for their sessions. Despite the new technology the police still won’t arrive in time to stop a violent crime…better take responsibility for your own self-defense.

The KWA PTR (pictured above) or PTS seems to be the weapon of choice for realistic airsoft trainers. I couldn’t find many other options that weren’t too much like toys for my liking.

Airsoft PROS:

  • ammo is cheap, abundant and even reusable if you have a trap or sticky target
  • training rigs offer same controls as real weapon systems
  • a decent number of drills can be executed with an airsoft

Airsoft CONS:

  • Need to either transfer existing sights from your weapon system or buy additional sights for consistency in training
  • Weight not the same between airsoft & the real thing
  • Mags can be different and different can lead to training scars
  • These rifles are not exactly cheap:
  • Even farther from live fire experience than 22LR options (no bang, no recoil)

Verdict: They are expensive and while the y do offer value you still need to mix in live fire to effectively train. If ammo remains scarce this could be a feasible option…it depends on how you feel about the cost of entry into a good airsoft rig.

Dry Fire/ Laser Training system option:

LTS target

A firing pin/striker-activated laser that makes a sound and shines down the bore of your weapon system to illustrate the point of impact from the “shot” using a special target that registers your hit. From LaserLyte’s website :

“The interactive system works in two modes; reaction and training. The reaction mode features random LED signals in intervals of three to seven seconds that can be shot with any of the LaserLyte® Trainers. When a hit is made the target celebrates with two beeps and a LED flash. The training mode allows the user to practice trigger control and accuracy with an always-on and ready-to-be-shot mode. When a hit is made, the target sounds two beeps and the LED flash…The LaserLyte® Reaction Tyme Target allow for new and experienced shooters to gain increased levels of confidence and skills in the comfort of their own home while saving money on ammunition.”

Laser Trainer PROs:

  • it’s cheap to feed- batteries are likely to remain abundant and unregulated for the foreseeable future
  • You can see the point of impact
  • Target offers several modes, can use multiple targets – versatility is good

Laser Trainer CONS:

  • For semi-auto weapons you have to rack charging handle to reset trigger EVERY SINGLE TIME- this could quickly become a training scar
  • Buy-in is around $300-$350 for the equipment
  • Another step away from live fire: no bang, no projectile/reloading exercise, no recoil

Laser Trainer Verdict: I am convinced that the training scar problem is a serious deal-breaker. How do I know? I racked my slide after a live shot at the range a few weeks ago and watched a live round fly out. The reason why is because I had been practicing 50+ dry fires per day for the previous 10 days. Training scars are real boys & girls…avoid them.

Stop Obama’s Gun Control Laws- Contact Your Senator Now!

We The People are effectively fighting the Anti’s and their efforts to take away Our Second Amendment rights. Now is the time to make more noise and be certain that the Senate hears our voice- the Silent Majority must be heard.

The Senate is trying to get the Gun Control Bill on the floor for a vote (although they continue to stall hoping to bring supporters on board) and We need to call the Senate switchboard (at 202-224-3121) to reach our Senators’ office and leave messages to remind these elected officials that the proposed legislation in s.649 won’t prevent mass shootings or other violent crimes. Specifically:

  • We Oppose ANY new Gun Control Laws
  • We Oppose Legislation that Turns Law-Abiding Citizens into Felons
  • We are watching their voting records and their actions now will determine how we vote in future elections

Leaving these phone calls takes less than 5 minutes- I promise it is as fast as sending a form letter email.

The legislation headed for the Senate floor has several key components (complete with links to Facts that prove these laws won’t stop any crime) – s.649 is summarized here:

If you want to really make a difference – After you have called your Senator you should call the ones below and tell them to OPPOSE Universal Background Checks (aka Gun Registration) and to OPPOSE all proposed gun control legislation. These are the CongressCritters with plenty to lose if they support unpopular law– make sure to remind them that Gun Control is not a popular idea among The People.

Senate Swing Votes Who Are Up For Re-election in 2014:

Max Baucus (D-MT) (202) 224-2651

Mark Begich (D-AK) (202) 224-3004

Susan M. Collins (R-ME) (202) 224-2523

Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) (202) 224-6342

Tim Johnson (D-SD) (202) 224-5842

Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) (202) 224-5824

Mark L. Pryor (D-AR) (202) 224-2353

Mark Udall (D-CO) (202) 224-5941

Tom Udall (D-NM) (202) 224-6621

Mark R. Warner (D-VA) (202) 224-2023

You are making a difference and defending unalienable rights that the Constitution protects for all law-abiding Americans- rights that cannot be sold, transferred or surrendered. Thank you for helping defend those rights.

Applying Lessons Learned to Training Drills

Training plateaus suck. They are also inevitable when you don't have unlimited resources to fund or spend time with professional trainers to keep growing your skillset. Stepping into IDPA has helped me raise the bar in a big way- if I can train to a level that makes me competitive in that arena it is probably enough– at least it seems like it not having accomplished that level of skill yet. My initial foray into IDPA courses of fire (CoF) helped me identify some improvement areas:

  • more work on targets at the 12-15yd distance
  • work on transition between close and far targets (instinctive shots vs. sight picture and fire as I work threat progressions)
  • grip-sight picture-trigger progression – I had a couple sloppy targets that made me wonder how the sight picture went wonky

How to practice target transitions from near to far distances?

Restricted to public indoor ranges at the moment I have to simulate target transitions since folks don't appreciate range cowboys shooting across multiple lanes. I'm trying to smoothly transition between small targets and large ones to simulate differing ranges. I also am using a 4″ A-Zone around small targets to focus on better accuracy.

Another approach is to work more targets at 10+yards to get better at longer shots to make transitions more natural.

How to practice shooting from cover?

That's a really important skill if you want to keep your body intact in a gunfight (think active shooter situations or roving mobs of thugs). It's also a dangerous thing to practice in an indoor range since you end up pretty far behind the firing line if you try to use a shooting booth partition for cover. I am working on a solution for this and will share my results soon.

Different targets on different days:

I spend a lot of time shooting silhouettes since that's what bad guys look like in IDPA, USPSA, etc. In real life they normally look a little scarier but the shape must be helpful- otherwise LE wouldn't train using them. One potential enhancement to the “3” string of my silhouette drills is to make these shots a Failure Drill (aka The Mozambique for you history buffs) – i.e. double tap high center mass and one head shot:

Now I have added a large stripe with 2″ circles underneath are great for precision/speed training and I hope this will help with the longer shots:

My theory is that a conscious effort is required to aim and hit a small target. Disregarding conditions like wind, cover, etc. it shouldn't matter if the target is small because its close and small or if it is small because it is farther away. If is works longer shots should become easier because the an A-Zone size target will be more forgiving, it's putting the gun on target and properly executing the shot that makes the difference when the chips are down.

Travel

Get off the X! I still think this is a critical component of self-defense training since it doesn't make sense to stand still – creating more distance between you and the threats makes lots of sense. A reasonable and safe approach I have started is to begin right up on the firing line and to practice a few steps backwards during a string of fire. You MUST be careful and aware of your surroundings– if you see the person in the booth next to you STOP because you're too far back. I'm surprised at how much my hits vary with just a couple steps backwards.

How to keep focused on fundamentals like grip, draw, sight picture?

This all sounds good- considering the above changes what fundamentals am I practicing now? I have not abandoned the 1-1-R-3 approach (like this but 1-1 instead of 1-2) although some modifications are noted above. It's good for mechanics (grip, draw, sight, reload) and is pretty efficient with ammo.

  • Draw, front sight, fire
  • Combat (Slide-lock)reloads: focus on executing reload in the workspace and keeping eyes down range
  • Rapid fire (double tap/triple tap)
  • Target transition from precision to speed
  • Travel (focus on backing away)
  • Reholster after post-fire threat assessment
  • Randomize distances- more reps on 10-15 yard targets

Looks good on paper– my next competitive outing will reveal how much value has been ascertained…stay tuned & stay frosty.

 

Training Options During Ammo Shortages

Support for Gun Control is waning… People are flocking ranges again and which suggests that the popular opinion is that it won't be a tough thing to find ammo over the next few months. However I don't foresee a surplus of ammo in anyone's future without paying some hoarder a royalty to obtain said ammo.

It's time to treat ammo as the safe queen it has become. Others around the world have to have some tips for us, Don't you think? For your consideration here are some training techniques we can all leverage in these desolate times to help preserve ammo – even though there is nothing like the real thing.

Copy Proven Military Techniques

The Mali Army trains without ammo using sophisticated techniques like the ones depicted below. With focus and diligence you could easily practice this drill several times a week in your own home. You may want to draw the blinds first though.

Train Using Realistic Alternative Weapon Systems

Full Auto Hi-Cap Glory!

 

Japan has sophisticated alternative weapon systems… (Reusable Ammo- this could be the next DefDist!!)

nihon gomu juu shageki kyoukai, The Japan Rubber Band Gun Shooting Association

and has found ways to keep their self defense skills sharp by forming Civilian Militias like the one pictured above.

Don't forget about Shock Knives…To Hell with the BLK SBRs– I hope these things are featured in the new GI Joe movie!!! And enjoy your April Fools Day…