As a prepper, you surely want to know how to make your own ammunition. If you are keen on shooting and have a barrel and some related gear at home, you must know how to make your own ammunition. Hard as it seems at the first glance, the process can be really simple if you follow some basic rules. To learn how to make a bullet, where to get gunpowder, how to make a proper alloy and get the result no worse than a factory, read this article up to the end.
As terrible and devastating as they get, wars are common to humans. People have been destroying each other for ages. And while the whole thing may look sad, unfair, and cruel, there is no way we will get rid of wars in the nearest future.
The world outside is a scary place. So even if you don’t ask for war, when it creeps right at your doorstep, you won’t have any choice but to retaliate. And to protect yourself and your family, you will have to be armed. But there is more to it. Since firearms themselves are just useless scrap of metal unless loaded with rounds.
Preppers and survivalists know that you always have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Food and water storage, first aid kits, hand tools, etc., are the first-priority survival items, but they are not everything you will need. You should also think about getting yourself a private firearms arsenal and ammo storage to go with it. But there’s even more.
Bullets in your ammo arsenal are not forever unless you manage to store millions of them, which is, let’s put it straight, impossible. So our idea is that your next step is making sure that your ammunition storage is one hundred percent renewable. In other words, your best bet is to build yourself an ammo factory of your own. So you will not have to worry about running our of previously-stored factory ammo.
Read this post to learn more about making your own bullets and becoming an experienced gunsmith of your own to stop worrying about possible ammo shortages.
- Before we go on, make sure you’ve bookmarked our guide on the Ten Best Survival Guns on the market. Tons of useful information there, so check it out!
Getting Started with Bullet Making
Here’s the deal, you are entering self-reliance and emergency preparedness. And you have all set already—things like food and water storage, medical supplies, clothes, hand tools, even guns. And now you want to be completely sure that nothing stands in your way. Not even ammo shortage.
Picture this. You’re in a post-disaster world. You go hunting, or maybe even you need to fight off pillagers and hostile looters that may come across your shelter. In other words, your life now involves a lot of shooting.
And there comes a day when you realize that you are running out of rounds for your gun. Your first solution to the problem should you still be living in a “normal” world to visit a local gun store for extra ammo. But the problem is you are no longer living in an everyday world of modern consumer conveniences. There are no gun stores, no Walmarts, or whatever you can go shopping for your gun supplies.
So you may come up with another idea – to go and trade something for bullets. And here’s the tricky part:
- Would you have something to trade with?
- Or maybe the price of bullets will be too high?
These questions lead us to the conclusion that bullets may become more than just ammunition. They will become a hard currency. And if you have enough bullets, you are in control of a situation.
With that said, building a personal ammo factory is something almost every prepper comes down to eventually. But how to get started with making your own bullets?
Our main recommendation is to start by getting yourself a high-quality reloader.
But what’s the ammo reloader?
- A reloader (or a reloading press) is a tool that will allow you to create cartridges using separate components like a primer, a bullet, gunpowder, a case, etc. This is a good starting point if you want to become a self-sufficient gun owner and produce your own ammunition for your home arsenal. At least, you will not have to spend extra cash on factory ammo since making bullets of your own will let you save money.
This is a common misconception that making your own ammo is a costly hobby. On the contrary, making ammo at home will only increase cost savings. If you break down a factory ammunition pack into its components, you will see that it is wiser to buy them separately:
- Why buying a twenty buck ammo pack of fifty rounds when you can spend sixty dollars on five hundred (!) grain bullets?
- Another case is primers. A one thousand item pack of primers will cost you only thirty bucks.
- And finally, you will get only up to twenty-five dollars to get a pound of powder enough to fill fifteen hundred rounds.
The maths is not too difficult: home bullet making equals cost savings.
As a wrap-up on the perks of ammo making at home, we’ll say that while the most expensive part of a round is a brass case, you will not have to buy them separately all the time. You can collect used cases from the floor of a shooting range and reuse them when reloading.
Another reason to invest in a reloading tool is that you will not have the opportunity to buy tons of rounds in your local gun store or Walmart. Retailers tend to limit the number of such items an individual customer can buy. So you may end up being able to get only three boxes of rounds, and that will be it.
But if you have a high-quality reloader, building ammo storage of your own will no longer be a problem. Besides, an ammo reloading press will prove to be a money-saving machine as well.
The ammo reloading process is something every prepper should master to feel confident and rest assured that their ammo storage will never run empty.
Our recommendation is to check out an RCBS Rock Chucker. This affordable single stage press is an amazing reloading tool to become your first purchase right after you’ve decided to become a survivalist gunsmith of your own.
- Have you checked out our guide on survival guns? If not yet, then do it right now! Bookmark the page and then continue reading this article. There’s still a lot for you to learn.
In this section, we will go straight down to business and tell you everything you need to know about making ammo of your own. So read closely and don’t miss out on a single thing.
Ammunition Reloading in a Nutshell
First of all, let’s make it clear that a bullet is only a part of a gun round or a cartridge. People are used to calling the whole construction a bullet, although it is not quite right. A bullet is a projectile placed on top of a casing and then is blasted out of it by a gunshot during the shooting.
So to make a gun round, you will need several separate parts:
- a brass case,
- a primer,
- a bullet.
The further process – handloading – is as simple as it sounds:
- You will need a new case of a used one (if the case has been used, clean it first);
- Attach a new primer to the rear side of the case;
- Stuff the case with gunpowder;
- And then, just like a cherry on top of a cake, attach a bullet to the front edge of a cartridge.
Now, if you are using spent brass cases, you will need to clean them before handloading. To do that, use a case cleaner. As for the rest of the process, all you will need is a reloading single-stage press like an RCBS Rock Chucker and several extra stuff like a tumbler (a case cleaner), primer brushes, a lube pad, and you’re ready to go.
But our recommendation is to try and find a combo solution like the RCBS 9278 Explorer Plus. It is a handloading set of tools that includes all the basic bullet-making tools featuring:
- Different type shell-holders;
- A pocket scale;
- Hand priming tool, etc.
Another thing that will be of great use to you is a Lyman Reloading Handbook. This book features all the necessary information on ammo reloading and will get you through the whole process.
- Haven’t checked out our Ultimate Survival Firearms guide yet? Don’t forget to do it right after you’ve finished this article.
Step-by-Step Ammo Reloading
Now it’s time we get down to the very process of ammo reloading, which includes nine steps.
Step 1 – Prepare Brass Cases
Using a vibratory case cleaner, clean used cartridges and then place them on top of a lubricant pad to lube them up.
Step 2 – Remove Used Primers
Back in the day, you would have to do a lot manually, but you will only have to pull the lever to make the job done. The same goes for removing used primers. Use RCBS Rock Chucker to remove used primers from the cartridges. To do that, just place a cartridge into a shell holder and pull the reloader’s lever. And then repeat the whole procedure.
A simple single-stage press may make the whole process look a bit time-consuming. So if you need to speed it up, you can use a multi-stage process. For instance, there is a high-quality Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Reloading Press.
Step 3 – Clean Primer Pockets
Once you’ve removed an old primer, you will have to clean each cartridge’s primer pocket to remove power residues. If you don’t do that, it will affect your shooting accuracy and challenge gun using safety.
Removing burnt gunpowder from a primer pocket will take a primer pocket cleaning brush. Of course, you can do the job using a multi-stage press, but to be honest, your best bet is to do it manually. That way, you will ensure the best safety.
You can attach a primer to the casing by two different methods:
- With your own hands using a hand priming device;
- With a special adapter using a reloading press.
Again, we believe that the manual method will give you extra assurance that the job is properly done.
Step 5 – Add Powder
Your next step is filling the cartridge with powder. Now read closely because this is very important:
- Make sure that you’re adding the proper amount of gunpowder into the cartridge.
There are speculations that the regular amount of powder these days is decreased for lesser blowback. And while this is arguable, our recommendation is to stick with the amount suggested for the caliber that you’re using. The thing is, if you put too much powder into a cartridge, it may cause the round to explode during shooting. And this may lead to some serious casualties. So mind safety.
For instance, when reloading 9mm ammo, use from 6.3 to 6.8 grain of gunpowder.
When preparing to fill cartridges with powder, it is best to run a test to make sure that you’re using the proper amount of powder. If everything is Okay, repeat the same procedure with the rest of your rounds.
Your best bet is to get yourself a scale. That way, you will be able to measure the exact amount of powder. Have the scale at your working desk at all times. Our recommendation is to check out the RCBS scale model.
Step 6 – Attach a Bullet
At this step, we’re almost through. Now all you need to do is prepare a bullet and place it on top of the round.
- Take a cleaned and primed brass and place it in the shell holder;
- Pull the lever to load powder into the brass casing;
- Take a bullet and place it onto the powder loaded brass;
- Pull the lever again to press the bullet down into the brass.
Step 7 – Measure a Round
When the whole procedure is through, you will want to measure the round to make sure it is the right length to fit your gun caliber. And if you followed all the steps correctly, you can consider the job done. Congrats, now you’re on your way to becoming an experienced gunsmith, and you will not have to worry about running out of ammo. Now it’s time to go to a shooting range to try out your home-manufactured ammunition!
As you see, reloading ammo at home is nothing too difficult. A reloading press and a simple set of tools are all you need to get started. Just be patient and follow the exact step-by-step instruction above, and you’ll be fine.
Also, here are a few tips for you:
- Try to have enough reloading supplies at all times so you will not run out of them and be able to do ammo reloading any time you need to;
- Practice reloading ammunition. The more you practice, the more skilled you get;
- There is no such thing as too many ammo supplies, so don’t hesitate to make as much ammunition as you want;
- When reloading ammo, make sure you have a sturdy working surface, and your room is properly ventilated.
However, there’s something more to be said about ammunition reloading.
Going Further into Ammo Reloading
9mm is not the only gun caliber. Many people have different caliber pistols and different types of guns. If you’re one of them and you have, for instance, a shotgun or a rifle, this section of our ammunition reloading guide is for you. This section will also be interesting for anyone looking for maximum independence in the matter of DIY ammunition production since we’ll be talking about casting lead bullets of your own.
How to Cast Your Own Bullet?
As you know, bullets are usually made of lead. So to make your own ammunition, you will have to find a lot of lead first. But why is it important to know how to cast bullets?
Here’s a couple of ideas on that. First of all, it is a fun thing to do if you’re a gun enthusiast and love everything gun-related. Secondly, as with ammo reloading, it will let you save money. As we said earlier, factory ammunition is quite expensive. So if you’re working your way on building an emergency gun storage, you will want to have enough spare reloading supplies that will allow you to make as much ammo as you want and do it any time you want it.
Besides, if you know how to cast your own bullets, you won’t bother about caliber or shape differences. You will be completely free to manufacture any type of ammunition for whatever guns you have.
The bottom line is that casting bullets is a skill you should have if you’re seriously into guns.
And as we’re all now on the same page, let’s get down to business. And since you have all the tools for ammunition reloading, the main question is, “how to find lead?”.
Your first solution is buying it. But again, it will cost you money, and it will cost you a lot if you’re planning to cast bullets regularly. So you will have to come up with more ideas.
One of them is collecting lead from metal scraps in junkyards. You may also check on auto shops. They often have spare materials containing lead, such as wheel weights. So it’s worth trying.
The video below will get you familiar with the whole process of casting lead bullets of your own:
If you’re not a pistol or a rifle fan, maybe a shotgun is your weapon of choice? After all, shotguns are extremely popular in the US, as many people prefer this type of firearms to rifles and handguns. So knowing how to reload shotgun shells will be quite useful. The set of shotgun reloading supplies is nothing exceptional, and the process of reloading is quite similar to a 9mm one. Here’s a tutorial video on how to reload shotgun cartridges:
Learning how to reload pistol, rifle, or shotgun shells are very important to anyone who’s into guns, firearm maintaining, and especially self-reliance. This skill will come in handy should things go down. So if you’re a gun owner, our recommendation is to spend some money on a press for ammo reloading and essential tools to go with it and start practicing. And better yet, you can go as far as starting to cast bullets of your own, which will give you extra confidence and make your home a real ammunition factory.
How To Make Your Own Bullets Today?
Bullets are projectile components of what is technically called rounds. So if you want to manufacture your own ammunition, you will have to learn how to cast bullets.
First of all, you will need lead. As soon as you found your way of getting the necessary amount of it (buying it or collecting in junkyards or cars shops), you will then have to prepare tools for casting bullets:
- A mold;
- A melting pot;
- A rubber mallet (or you can use a wooden one).
Also, don’t forget about safety! So eye-protecting glasses, leather gloves, and long-sleeved clothes will be perfect. One more thing is a fire extinguisher. Have it close to you, just in case.
In a nutshell, the bullet casting goes like this:
- You prepare the mold by cleaning, drying it, and smoking it with a match.
- Then you meld the lead;
- Then you will have to heat the mold before you pour molted lead into it;
- When the job’s done, let the lead cool. It should take from three to six seconds;
- Finally, use a mallet to get the newly cast bullet out.
As straightforward as it seems, casting bullets still requires practice. So if you don’t succeed at first, keep trying. The more practice you have, the more skilled you get. So our recommendation is to train for more speed and accuracy.
How Do You Reload Ammo?
For ammo reloading, you will need:
- A reloading press;
- Brass casings;
If you are using a spent brass casing, first of all, you will have to clean one to go on with reloading ammunition. Then take out a used primer and clean the primer pocket by removing gunpowder residue. After that, attach an unused primer to the casing.
Before filling the case, measure the right amount of powder for more accuracy. Using bullets with too much powder in them may be dangerous. The round may explode when shooting.
Then place the casing into a shell holder of the press and pull the lever to add powder. And then put a bullet on top of the round and pull the lever one more time to press it down into the round. Before using homemade rounds, measure them.
What are the Types of Reloading Presses?
There are three types of reloading presses people use for ammo reloading:
- Single-stage type of press that is the simplest type of reloading presses with only one die;
- Turret press has several dies placed on a turret ring. Such construction makes reloading a bit faster. Some turret presses have automated turret rings, so you don’t have to rotate them manually;
- A Progressive press is a more elaborate reloading machine that will allow you to become an ammo factory of your own. Such presses have an extended construction upgraded with a case feeder, a priming system, a powder measure, a turret ring, and a multi-pocket shell holder.
What is the Future of Gunmaking Culture Like?
What the future of gun-making culture maybe is not an easy question to answer. It is too deep and complicated. Instead of finding a general answer, we will focus on the survivalist side of the issue. We believe that with the development of tools and equipment, gun making and everything related will get even more available, resulting in the progressive growth of DIY and prepper enthusiasts. As you may have witnessed, reloading ammo and casting bullets of your own is not rocket science, so almost everyone can do it. The question is, what for protecting themselves and their family and preparing for the worst-case scenario future or illegal and malicious purposes?