The Short End of the Stick …

Dealing With Ammo & Component Shortages

By using smaller bullets and faster burning powders you’ll get more shots per pound.

The pandemic combined with politics is a recipe responsible for making shooters’ blood boil. As we appear to be easing back to some semblance of post-pandemic normalcy, ammunition, reloading components and guns are still in high demand. Everything, and I mean everything, is out of stock, back-ordered, or priced exuberantly high.

What’s the typical shooter to do in these dire circumstances? We want/need to shoot, right? Here are a few suggestions to get you through these dire times.

Nut Jobs?

Remember how you made fun of those “conspiratorial nut jobs” who stocked ammo by the pallet and powder, primers and bullets by the case load? They don’t seem so crazy now, do they? In fact, many are envious of their foresight, as they take stock of their paltry inventory. If only … remember this lesson if things ever get back to normal.

After the 2008 election .22 rimfire all but disappeared. While having a meager supply on hand, I took noticed. When things finally returned to normal, I took advantage. When the shelves started filling up, I’d buy two bulk packs of .22’s every time I went to Walmart. I feel comfortable with my .22lr reserves now, and accumulated it without hurting demand. I never cleared the shelves, hoarding everything available. Think of your neighbors. While it’s too late to stock up on reasonably priced ammo this go round, when things get back to normal, remember to stock up.

Scavenger Hunt?

For handloaders, we can never have enough powder, primers, bullets or brass. I recently bought a pound of powder for $42. Holy cow! Primers are running $600 a thousand! A few years ago, I thought $128 for five thousand was outrageous!

Check with older neighbors, friends, or fellow shooters from your club. Some of these old gents just may have their own stockpile in their basement. Be polite and make a fair offer while explaining how tough things are out there. You may get lucky. Maybe offer doing some yard work, or other tasks, to make each other happy?

If you don’t handload yourself, but know someone who does, barter with them. Maybe if you manage to obtain some brass, bullets, powder or lead, you can work out a deal with the handloader. Now is the absolute worst time to start handloading yourself. You’ll be frustrated at the inventory, while being taken advantage of by the price of high demand.

For those of you already casting and handloading, change some of your plinking, or everyday loads using faster powders you already have on hand and use lighter bullets. You’ll get more shots per pound of powder and lead. I sure have. Every little bit helps.

Casting Your Own

When I started casting my own bullets over 30 years ago, it was for a variety of reasons, but being self-sufficient was at the top of the list. I say this not to gloat, but to explain how being as self-sufficient as possible pays off in the long run.

By having jars and cans of bullets I cast, I have a cheap, renewable resource of projectiles. I’m constantly scrounging for lead. With a good stock of lead and my bullet molds, I have one less vital resource to worry about.

Long-Range Plan

If you think you want to start handloading, take advantage of swap meets, yard sales, local papers and estate sales offering reloading equipment. While accumulating equipment and supplies slowly, word will trickle out about your quest, and people will start contacting you about available gear.

You’ll start acquiring used goods at bargain prices. Again, once things get back to normal, you can start replacing and getting more handloading equipment.

Dry firing is an excellent to develop and maintain your trigger press.
Try it while balancing a cartridge case on top of your barrel for more challenge.

Dry Fire

Dry firing is a great way to practice your trigger press, especially when trying to master your double action revolver. Make it more challenging by balancing a spent piece of brass on top of the barrel and see how many trigger presses you can do without the brass falling off. Revolver masters dry fire as much, if not more than they do with live ammo. There’s a reason for it! As always, make doubly and triply sure your gun is unloaded!

Air Soft / BB Guns

Using air soft pistols is a great way to save money, keep your eyes sharp, while maintaining your trigger press during sight alignment. You can even shoot inside with them!

I use a plastic bucket with a piece of paper taped over the mouth for targets. The bucket collects the air soft BB’s for easy clean-up. It’s also a great way to introduce younger kids to shooting.

Outside shooting sessions with traditional BB/pellet guns is also a great way of saving money for replacing rim/center-fire ammo costs.

A $10 air soft pistol can also be used for practicing indoors for cheap.
It’s also a great way to introduce children to shooting.

Stay Focused!

Tough times make tough people! Observe and learn during these times. Remember those who price gouged you and those who remained fair. Never stop looking for bargains pertaining to ammo and loading components. Strive to be that “old man” with more ammo and components than you’ll ever need, and barter within reason with a shooter in need and mentor them. Remember, we’re all in this together.