I have voiced my opinion often regarding the shortage of ammunition. I think the shortage has also brought an interest in loading your own ammunition.
This makes sense. If you can’t find ammo for your .243, a little leg work might be needed, but you’ll probably find the components to load it yourself.
Keep in mind that you might not find the bullets or powder you normally use, but working up a load with something different can be done. Check out a loading manual and you will find that no cartridge is confined to just one bullet or a single powder.
For instance, a 22-250 works just fine with H-380 or 4064. If you have been using Varget and can’t find it in the stores, try something different.
Like every other hand loader, I don’t like change, but I will if and when it is needed.
There are other reasons to load your own ammunition. The scarcity of ammunition is just one of those.
Many beginners take up handloading to save money. A homemade is cheaper than a box of Federals, but instead of saving money, you wind up shooting more.
And the more you load, the more gadgets you find that you need.
Many shooters are interested in speed. Others want accuracy.
I get caught up in that trap myself. I once owned a .243 that was super accurate but slower than most. Like an idiot, I sold it.
For some unknown reason, punching holes in paper has become a form of therapy.
It’s a fact that non-reloaders seldom get maximum performance from their firearms. There are some exceptions, however.
I have owned two rifles that shot factory ammunition better than reloads. One was a Sako. The other was a Howa. Both would punch out one-hole groups.
Those super-accurate rounds had something in common. Both were made by Norma.
The first one was a Weatherby Vanguard. That was when I was on my game, and I could put three shots in one ragged hole at 100 yards.
The other cartridge was a .270 mag, and it was moving downrange very quickly. I don’t know why or what I traded it for.
The next one is still in my possession and it will put five shots in one hole at 100 yards. It’s a Sako heavy barrel chambered for a benchrest round in the 6 ppc. I haven’t reached the point where I say it shoots better with my reloads.
I believe the slow twist in the barrel barely stabilizes the bullet, which affects the accuracy.
The third reason for loading your own ammo is hard to explain. It’s not our actions, but how much we learn. The more you shoot, the more you become interested in the hows and whys of reloading related to performance.
After a while, the process becomes more important than the shooting.
John Dino says that if you don’t reload, you don’t understand the three kids of ballistics, internal, external and terminal. Internal is what happens within the rifle. External is what happens when it leaves the barrel. Terminal is what happens when the bullet strikes the target.
Many times one of those overrules the others. In this instance, the bullet’s expansion or lack of expansion rules that bullet out for big game hunting.
Perhaps another bullet will fit the bill, even if it isn’t the most accurate. Have you ever noticed that the most accurate bullets have a hollow point? Those are match bullets and they are not recommended for shooting big game. They are designed for paper punching.
Some good advice is to use loads from the loading manual.
A few years ago, I had a person come to the store with three cases split in more than once place and ask me what would cause the problem.
I knew he loaded heavy and really knew little about the pressures and little nuances that bug reloaders.
I muttered under my breath that he was an idiot, not because his loads were obviously too hot, but because he shot three times.
Believe me, I would have quit after the first shot and took the scap case home. It’s not a situation where I would have shot those reloads.
However, reloading is a safe hobby, if you follow the directions in the reloading manual.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.