Reloading Press for the Backyardsman

Last time I talked about getting started with reloading. This time I’m going to talk about how to pick the right press.

I guess in theory you could reload ammunition with a rock, a punch, and a flat surface, but I wouldn’t want to try it. Things just work out better for me when I use the right tools. For reloading, that means a solid bench, a reloading press, and a good set of dies. Getting a good reloading press is easy since so many companies make good quality presses. Picking the right one for you can be confusing though because there are so many choices. Ultimate Reloader for example shows presses from 10 different makers on their page. They left out some. Some companies make more than one reloading press. Lee has 5 different single stage presses, 2 turret presses, and 3 progressives. RCBS has 7 different models. Lyman and Hornady also have several choices. So which one to get?

What do you want to do?

The difference between single stage, turret, and progressive reloading presses are speed, cost, and complexity. A single stage press is the simplest and cheapest, but also the slowest. Every round you load will be handled 5-7 times as you go through the steps, and at least 3 pulls on the handle. A turret press speeds things up a little because you only handle each round twice going through the steps. It still takes 3 pulls on the handle though. The fastest is a progressive. Each round is only handles once, and once you get going every pull of the handle makes a completed round.

I tend to work slow and careful. On a single stage press, I can make about 80 rounds of handgun ammo per hour. On my Hornady LnL-AP I can make about 350 rounds per hour. I won’t have a turret press until next month, so I’ll have to update when I get it.

What’s the best reloading press?

Once you decide how fast you need to load you need to think about quality and features. It doesn’t pay in the long run to buy the cheapest available, so buy the best you can afford. For example, Lee makes 5 different single stage presses. Their best one by far is the Lee Classic Cast. It’s a solid, cast iron, O-frame press with solid linkage. It’s just as good as most other single stage presses, including some that cost a lot more than the Lee. It also has the best spent primer handling of any single stage press on the market. In fact I’d take it over the RCBS Rock Chucker because of the primer handling. On the other hand, I wouldn’t bother with the cheaper Lee single stage presses. They’re made from aluminum instead of iron, and the linkage isn’t as solid.

For a progressive press, I’d stick with a Diilon 550 or a Hornady LnL-AP. Both Dillon and Hornady have great customer service, and both presses are very popular with lots of info available if you run into problems. Personally I’d avoid other brands of progressive presses. I read a lot about people having problems with the Lee progressives, esp. the Auto Breech Lock Pro. RCBS and Lyman also make progressives, but I have no experience with them. Given my good experiences with the LnL-AP and Dillon 550, I don’t have a reason to switch.

I don’t have a turret press yet, so I can’t really comment on those. I’ve read really good things about the Lee Classic Turret, and I have one on the way. So hopefully soon I’ll be able to give a report on that.

As for specialty presses, there are a bunch. One you might read about is the Forster Co-Ax. I have a friend who has one and it’s a really nice press. It was designed for long range precision shooters though, and priced accordingly. For the average Backyardsman it’s probably overkill.


Inline Fabrication makes some really nice accessories for reloaders. I’m pretty much a minimalist but some of their stuff is worth getting. I have their Ultramount with a quick change mounting system. It gets the press up off the bench nicely, and the quick change feature is really nice if you have more than one press. I also have their Skylight LED setup for my Hornady LnL-AP. It really helps when I’m loading in the evening (my loading room isn’t lit very well).

As much as I like the Inline Fabrication bling, the only necessary accessory for your reloading press is a solid, stable bench to mount it on. Some reloading steps take a lot of pressure on the handle, so the bench has to be heavy and solid enough to stay stable. Also, the top needs to be stiff so it doesn’t flex. My first bench had a 3/4″ plywood top (5 ply) that flexed too much until I added a 12″ square, 1/4″ aluminum pad under the mounting flange. My current bench has a 1-1/4″ thick butcher block top and works fine.

Hope you find this information useful. If you have any questions, post a comment. Next time I’ll talk a little about reloading dies. Until then…

Peace out,

update: I was looking for something I’d read about the Lee Classic Turret press, found it today. I have one of these on the way, hope to do a review in the next month or so.

Getting Started With Reloading

Reloading is a great activity for the Backyardsman who’s into shooting. It’s one outdoor related activity you can do without getting to the great outdoors. Getting started with reloading is easy, but it can be confusing. There are lots of choices in equipment and lots of bad advice.  A lot of “reviews” are nothing more than sales pitches. This will be a multi-part series because there’s too much info to fit into one post. I’ll start out by clearing up THE most common misconception about reloading. After that I’ll give an overview of what you need to know. Future posts will get more into specifics.

The biggest reloading misconception:

The biggest misconception about reloading is that it will save you a lot of money. If you shoot a lot, or shoot a gun that takes expensive ammo, reloading can save you money. That doesn’t mean it will save you money. Take 9mm for example. You can buy 9mm ammo for 16.5¢ per round. Assuming free brass, the cheapest I’ve seen anyone claim they can reload 9mm for is 7¢ per round, saving 9.5¢ per round. The cheapest reloading kit I can find right now is about $130. Add another $40 for a set of dies and figure $170 total to get started.

Saving 9.5¢ per round means you’d break even at 1800 loaded rounds. If you don’t shoot much, that’s a lot of rounds. And those 1800 rounds will be loaded on a single stage press (slow), so figure about 20 – 30 hours of time, too. Of course you could get a faster press. The one in the lead picture is a Dillon 1050. Auto indexing with case collator/feeder and bullet feeder. It could easily knock out 1800 rounds in 2 hours. It also costs around $2000 as pictured. So you’ll break even after loading about 21000 rounds of 9mm…

Getting started with reloading:

Even if you don’t save money, I think reloading your own ammo is a really good idea. I find it very relaxing. It lets you make ammo specifically tailored for your guns. And when you get into premium ammo, the costs savings per round are better than they are with cheap 9mm plinking ammo.

Getting started with reloading is easy. Especially if you’re loading pistol ammo, all you need is:

  • A bench. You need this to mount your press. The bench needs to be stable and have a solid top so it doesn’t flex while you’re operating the press.
  • Reloading press. This could be a single stage, turret, or progressive press. Single stage is usually cheapest but it’s also the slowest. A good turret press costs more than most single stage presses, but less than a good progressive. It’s also faster than a single stage but not as fast as a progressive. The fastest reloading press will be a progressive, but they’re also the most expensive. I’ll go into more detail on presses in my next post.
  • Powder measure. This is what dispenses the powder. If you’re running a single stage press, most likely the powder goes into a little pan. You then weigh it and dump it into the cases.
  • Powder scale. If you don’t put enough powder in your ammo, you’ll have a squib load which can result in the gun blowing up in your hand. If you put in too much powder, over pressure can result in the gun blowing up in your hand. Powder is measured by weight, not volume, so you’ll need a good powder scale to help make sure your gun doesn’t blow up in your hand.
  • Die set. Reloading dies are what do the work of sizing the brass, seating the bullet, and maybe applying a crimp. Buy the best dies you can afford. If you use carbide dies and you’re loading straight wall cases you don’t need to use case lube when sizing. I use carbide rifle dies as well. They need case lube but they seem to run smoother than non-carbide dies.
  • Case cleaner. You need to clean your cases before you load them. If you’re starting with brand new clean brass, you might get away with not cleaning it through a couple loadings, but eventually it’s going to get grungy. Grungy brass gets stuck in chambers, causes FTFs, and can damage your dies. So just clean your brass.
  • Case prep. If you’re shooting bottle neck cartridges, they stretch over repeated firings. Because of that, you’ll need some way to measure case length as well as a case trimmer.
  • Components. Bullets, powder, and primers.
  • Misc. If you’re reloading rifle cartridges (or pistol with non-carbide dies) you’ll need case lube. Military surplus brass will need a tool to fix the primer pockets. If you’re shooting precision rifle, you’ll need… lots of stuff that I won’t get into in this series…

And that’s pretty much it.

OK, so now what?

I’m not making any specific recommendations this time. Generally, it’s almost never a good idea to buy the cheapest gear you can find. That doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive though. Stick with well known brands with good customer service reputations. It’s OK to mix and match different brands. Unless you shoot a lot, a single stage or turret press probably makes more sense than a progressive.

Next time I’ll talk about reloading presses. I’ll also start talking about dies and other things you’ll need, but go into detail on presses with specific recommendations. Until next time…

Peace out,

Glock – best pistol for the Backyardsman?

Glock pistol detail strip

One of my friends is a gunsmith. One of my shooting buddies is in law enforcement. A couple other friends shoot IDPA. Thanks to my friends, I get to handle and shoot a lot of guns I wouldn’t be able to if I had to buy them all myself. If I could have only one handgun it would be a Glock. I can make a pretty good case that a Glock is the best pistol for the Backyardsman.

Glock vs. whatever…

Like I said, I get to try lots of different guns thanks to my friends. I also own a couple of handguns myself. I’m not close to having tried every handgun on the market, but I have tried a few. Charter Arms Bulldog. Colt 1911 (Series 70, Series 80, Commander) and clones. CZ-75 and clones. Kel-Tec P32. Ruger GP-100, Super Blackhawk (30 Carbine and 44 magnum), LCP, and LC9s Pro. Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special, K22, M57 (41 Magnum), 4006, and M&P Shield. Taurus G2C. Uberti Colt Walker replica. And of course, Glocks.

A Glock isn’t the best looking (1911 has that) or most accurate handgun (my S&W Victory holds that title) I’ve shot. Some people don’t like the grip angle (I don’t have a problem with it). It’s not as “safe” as some other guns IF you don’t practice good trigger discipline. Still, I think there are some good reasons why a Glock is the best pistol for the Backyardsman.


First of all, Glocks are very popular. Being popular doesn’t make one thing better than another but when it comes to guns, popularity has its advantages. Being popular means that other companies like to get in on the action. I have a Charter Arms Bulldog. I love it, but it’s not a very popular gun. That might be why it’s almost impossible to find a holster for it. I’m guessing that holster makers only make holsters if they think they can sell a lot of them.

Compare that to Glock. Just about every holster maker on the planet makes holsters for Glocks. And not just holsters – sights, magazines, upgraded triggers, spare parts – you name it. Glock’s popularity also means that lots of gunsmiths know how to work on them, so in the unlikely event your Glock breaks it will be easy to find someone to fix it for you. Unless you decide to fix it yourself…


The Glock pistol is a really simple design with less than 40 parts (at least up to Gen 3). You only need one tool – the “Glock Tool” – to do just about anything that needs to be done. It’s also really easy to work on. I can detail strip a Glock faster than I can get the slide and barrel off a 1911. When I decided to upgrade the trigger on my IDPA Glock, I did it myself. It onle took about 5 minutes and no special tools. Try that with a 1911…

In fact, Glocks are so easy to work on that I put one together from a pile of parts. I just finished a Gen 3 Glock 35 based on a G17 RTF2 stripped frame. The entire “build” took about an hour. In fact I spent more time finding and ordering all the parts then I did putting them together. If you don’t want a factory frame, you can even build a Glock-like pistol with an 80% frame from Polymer80. It’s a little more involved than using a factory frame, but not by much.


Lots of people criticize Glocks grip angle, I guess because it’s different than the 1911. Personally I don’t have a problem with it – for me, the Glock points more naturally than most handguns I’ve tried. The polymer frame and low bore axis makes the Glock really easy to shoot well, at least for me. I also like the rear outline/front dot sight picture – works better for my old eyes than 3 dot sights.

Glock Perfection

Yep, a Glock is the perfect handgun. OK, maybe it’s not. It would be nice if they would put steel sights on their guns instead of the polymer junk they use. The Gen 3 doesn’t hold up all that well with high pressure rounds like 40 Smith and Wesson. They fixed that with Gen 4, but the Gen 4 triggers aren’t as smooth as the Gen 3. The slide finish they went to sometime during Gen 3 isn’t as durable as the Tennifer finish they used before that. The Gen 5 slides have a finish that’s supposedly even better than the original Tennifer, but it’s to dark and too d@mn shiny IMO.

So maybe Glocks aren’t perfect. But with their simplicity, ease of repair, parts availability, and ergonomics, they make a great pistol for the Backyardsman. In fact, I think a Glock just could be the best pistol for the Backyardsman. What do you think?

Peace out,

Related Links

Glock hater accidentally buys a Glock 24
Build your own Glock

Hi-Point JHP45 first impressions

hi-point jhp45A few months ago I got interested in
cheap guns
after watching some video reviews of the Hi-Point JHP45. I bought one about a month ago but I didn’t get a chance to shoot it until yesterday. It cost $166.98 (including shipping) so it’s definitely a cheap gun. I hope to do a full review of the Hi-Point JHP45 in about a month, but for now these are my first impressions.

Hi-Point JHP45 out of the box

Out of the box is literally “out of the box.” The Hi-Point JHP45 comes in a cardboard box. That’s not a complaint, just an observation because it’s the first time in awhile I’ve bought a handgun that didn’t come in a plastic hard case. Actually you can get the JHP45 with a factory hard case for $11 more than I paid, which is a pretty good deal. I decided to go as cheap as possible though…

The first thing I noticed was the looks. I’d seen pictures, but this gun is even less, uhmm, “aesthetic” in real life. The second thing is the weight. Almost all the weight is in the slide, which makes this gun feel really top heavy. The 2 color (red front, yellow rear) 3 dot sights are pretty easy to see, but the dots could be bigger. The front sight is part of the slide and not replaceable. The rear sight is adjustable and replaceable. In fact the JHP45 comes with an extra (“ghost ring”) rear sight. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks interesting.

The trigger feels about the same as all the other striker-fired pistols I’ve shot. Not as nice as a good single action trigger, but better than a DAO trigger. There’s a magazine disconnect safety that only works about half the time on my sample, and the gun comes with a single 9 round magazine.

Two things I really don’t like about this pistol are the safety and the ejector. The safety only blocks the seer, so if it fails the gun can fire even if the trigger isn’t pulled. The ejector in this gun is… the firing pin. If you rack the slide with a live round in the chamber, the firing pin WILL contact the live primer. If you’re going slow and careful it probably won’t be a problem. If you rack it a little too fast and hard though, the gun could fire. For these reasons I don’t think it’s safe to carry a Hi-Point pistol with a round in the chamber.

First time shooting

I took my Hi-Point out for the first time yesterday with three magazines of Winchester 230 gr. FMJ. Racking the slide takes a lot more effort than I’m used to which could be a consideration for some. Also, the first round on the first try was a FTF. Not a good sign, but once I messed with it a bit the gun functioned fine. I stepped up to the line and cut loose…

The first magazine was disappointing. I had a B-27 target set up at seven yards. Eight of nine shots stayed in the black. Meaning ALL the black. If this thing shoots that bad… I mean I’m not the world’s best shot but I’m not THAT bad… WTH is going on???

After the disappointment I decided to slow down and think a little. What went wrong? First, those 3 dot sights weren’t as easy to pick up when aiming at an actual target. Second, the JHP45 doesn’t track during recoil like my other pistols. Maybe it was just new gun jitters. For the second magazine I put on my reading glasses so I could see the sights better and slowed down a bit. This time all nine shots went into an area that could be called an actual group. Still not the accuracy I usually get from my Glocks though…

One thing that really surprised me was the recoil. I was expecting it to feel like something between a 380 and a soft shooting 9mm. Almost every comment I’ve read about the Hi-Point JHP45 says the heavy slide soaks up recoil like a sponge and makes it a very soft shooting gun. That wasn’t my experience. It doesn’t kick hard, but t doesn’t kick soft either. Feels about like my Govt Model 1911. Definitely more muzzle flip than my Glock 30 (a compact 45 ACP pistol).

Thoughts so far…

I didn’t have time to really wring this gun out. I wouldn’t carry it but it might make a good home defense gun. So far it seems reliable, and the accuracy issues I think are on me, not the gun. I’m looking forward to really putting this thing through its paces and seeing what it can do. I can’t recommend (or not recommend) this gun yet, but so far the Hi-Point JHP45 seems like a very interesting hand gun.

Peace out,

Cheap guns

hi-point-cheap-gunsWhen I was a kid there were two kinds of handguns: ones that worked and ones that were cheap. I’ve pretty much lived my life believing that most cheap guns are junk. I always bought the best I could afford. For pistols, that usually meant Glock. The cheapest I’d go was an RIA 1911 pistol. Anything cheaper was junk in my mind. I was reading an article on affordable handguns though and it got me thinking – what if the day came that I needed to buy a gun but I couldn’t afford a Glock? Will I be stuck buying a total p.o.s.? I decided to start looking for cheap guns that weren’t junk. Surprisingly (to me at least) I found some that might be OK guns…

Cheap guns – what is cheap?

First, cheap is relative. Compared to my RIA 1911 GI model, a Colt Delta Elite is an expensive gun. Compared to a Les Baer 1911, the same Delta Elite is a cheap gun. That’s not the kind of cheap I’m talking about though. I’m also not talking about a cheap piece of junk that doesn’t work. A gun like that isn’t a cheap gun, it’s an expensive paper weight. I’m talking guns that are affordable and reliable, and I’m defining affordable as $300 or less.

It was an accident…

I got into cheap guns by accident. I was reading one of the Glock forums and someone was making fun of Hi-Point pistols. Someone else (a Hi-Point fan) posted a link to a torture test on YouTube. The way the Hi-Point in that video stood up to the abuse was really impressive. In fact, after watching the video I decided I had to have a Hi-Point…

I bought a Hi-Point JHP 45. I’m sure it will be reliable, but it has some other issues that I’ll address in a full review once I have a chance to wring it out. Lets just say there are certain things the JHP 45 is “not optimal” for. So I started looking for other cheap guns…

New, not used…

I don’t have anything against used guns. There is one problem with used guns though – it can take a long time to find the one you want. Besides, I want to test guns that anyone can find, not just bargain sleuths. So far things look promising. Some of the cheap guns I’ve found so far are the Taurus G2C, Kel-Tec P-11, and S&W SD9VE. I haven’t found a good cheap revolver yet, but I’ll keep looking.

So are all cheap guns junk? I’m starting to think maybe not. I can’t afford to test every gun that tickles my fancy, but I have the JHP 45 to test. When I’m done with that I’m getting a Taurus G2C. Hopefully my Glocks won’t get jealous…

What’s your take on cheap guns?

Peace out,

I should have brought a gun…

I went to my first IDPA pistol match yesterday. I have a friend at work who shoots IDPA and he said I should check it out. The local pistol club has matches on the first Saturday of the month so I loaded up my kids and brother and drove out. I wasn’t planning on shooting so I left my gun at home.

I thought it would be pretty intense so I wanted to watch a match before shooting in one. Turns out I was wrong. It was pretty low key/low stress. There were 19 people shooting in the match and everyone I talked to was really friendly. I asked if I could take video and they said “no problem.” (Will post as soon as I figure out how to get them uploaded from my iPhone).

Someone asked why I wasn’t shooting. I told them I was just watching and didn’t have my gun. So… one of the group offered to let me use his gun. I turned him down because I don’t like using other people’s expensive stuff. I wanted to shoot though – it was so low key. I should have brought a gun.

More Glock goodness…

Glock 35 Gen 4It’s been hectic around here lately. We’re trying to get my wife’s sister and her husband acclimated to life in the US. It’s not working out very well so far. My brother already wants to go back. I’m learning Chinese and trying to come up with things to keep him (them) occupied. They love working in our back yard, they’re both interested in church (and there is a Christian Chinese church in town), and he (my brother) wants to go shooting. We make homemade beef jerky every Saturday. They take long walks with my kids every night. Everything is working out great except my brother already wants to go back to China. I don’t blame him. If I was stuck someplace where almost no one spoke my language I’d feel the same. Unless I found a reason to want to stay…

Glock goodness…

What does any of that have to do with Glocks? Stay with me. I want my in-laws to stay here. I need to come up with a good reason for them to want to stay. What can they do here they can’t do in China? Go shooting. Get involved in the whole gun culture. For handguns, to me that means Glock goodness. In light of that, I just got a Gen 4 Glock 35. I also have a Polymer80 frame and all the parts to build a NAG 19. My brother is interested in hunting and shooting. Introducing him to Glock goodness will be a good thing. That and eventually Black Rifle Disease…

I have lots of vacation time saved up at work. Since Fridays are always slow and vacations are a waste of time, I talked to my boss about just taking Fridays off. He said OK, so most Fridays starting next week will be range days. Just my, my brother, my 2 sons, and some Glock goodness.

Sunday update…

That was yesterday. Today I took the family to a Chinese Christian church. Tried not to look nosy but I managed to notice that my brother sang along with the hymns and read along with the Scripture readings. In the bulletin I saw an announcement for a church camp at the end of August. Another backwoodsman (a.k.a. backyardsman) thing I can do with my new found brother. Making new family traditions and all that…

Build your own gun

building your own gunI’m filing this under How to be a Backyardsman. I love to shoot and hunt but I can’t do that in my backyard. You probably can’t either unless you’re really lucky. So what can you do if you like guns but you can’t go shooting as much as you’d like? Build your own gun. It’s pretty easy – if I can do it you probably can too.

Build your own gun vs. buying a factory gun

Sometimes you can save money by building your own gun, but usually it’s cheaper to just buy one. I don’t care. I build guns because I enjoy it and I get to make them exactly the way I want them. It’s also a great way to learn how they work. I figure if I built it I can probably fix it if it breaks. If you start with an 80% receiver it can save you from doing paperwork.

OTOH it’s easier to just buy one. To build your own, you’ll need some tools and skills. It’s usually cheaper to buy a factory gun, and it will come with a warranty. So why build your own? Because you’re a Backyardsman, right?

Ways to build your own gun

When you build your own gun, you have lots of options. The cheapest is to get a black powder rifle or pistol kit. You can get a Traditions Kentucky pistol kit for about $175 or their Kentucky rifle kit for about $260. I haven’t built either but they look pretty easy to put together and they get good reviews online. To build one, you’ll need to do a little wood inletting for the metal parts, some minor filing, finish the wood stock, blue the metal parts, and screw everything together. I’m hoping I can build one with my son later this year (after he passes his Hunter Safety course).

The easiest way to build your own gun is putting together an AR15. You can get every part you need online. The only hard part is finding an FFL to do the transfer on the lower receiver for you. You’ll need a few special tools and some good instructions, but putting together an AR is so easy it’s not even really building a gun, more like assembling one. If you want a little more challenge you can start with an 80% lower. My first (and so far only) home built gun was an AR-15. It cost just as much as a factory gun, but it’s put together exactly the way I want. I have over 1,000 rounds through it with zero malfunctions.

My next home built gun is going to be a Glock type pistol built on a Polymer80 frame. The ATF doesn’t consider this to be a firearm so you can order the frame kit without going through an FFL. I got my frame last week and even though it needs some milling, it looks even easier than putting together an AR15. The only problem is the cost – about $200 for the frame and lower kit and $400 for a complete slide. You can buy a brand new factory Glock cheaper than that.

If you’re really good and have tools you can build a custom bolt action rifle or even build your own semiautomatic pistol from scratch.

So get to it – start building

If you like guns, you should definitely build your own gun. At least once. It’s easy (at least it can be) and you’ll learn valuable skills. What are you waiting for? Figure out what you want, find the parts (either locally or online), and start building.

Peace out,

Prepper Guns

Getting started with guns, part 1

Prepper guns seem like a really popular topic, at least judging by the number of books and magazine articles on them. It’s almost like there’s an entire industry built on writing about so-called prepper guns. Unfortunately, a lot of it is basically just gun porn. It sells magazines but doesn’t give you much practical information. So what is the best prepper gun? That depends on what you’re prepping for and where you’re prepping. If you live in a city, the best choice will be different than if you live 50 miles from your nearest neighbor. There are just a few things to keep in mind when deciding what guns would be good prepper guns for you. (Spoiler alert: One of the considerations is NOT how “cool” or “bad ass” the gun looks…)

Will it do the job?

It doesn’t matter how “tactical” or “cool” a gun looks. If it won’t do the job you need it to do, it’s basically worthless. An HK 91 makes a great battle rifle, but it kind of sucks for hunting small game. A muzzle loader might be OK for hunting, but it kind of sucks for self defense. An AR 15 is good for hunting small game AND for self defense, but it’s a felony to own one in some states.

Will you be able to get ammo for it?

My tastes in cartridges run mostly towards those that aren’t exactly main stream. 44 Special, 41 Magnum, 257 Roberts, 45-70, things like that. All are really good cartridges now, but very bad choices for prepper guns. Why? Because post-SHTF it will be hard to find ammo. Some of it is hard to find now. Some people like to say they don’t care, they’ll reload or they have a big stock pile. OK, so what if SHTF when they’re not at home and they can’t get home to their reloading setup?

In my opinion, ammo choices for a prepper are few: 22 LR is good IF a 22 meets your needs. For revolvers, 38 Special or maybe 357 magnum. For semi auto handguns, 9mm or maybe 45 ACP. Rifles, 5.56 (223) or 7.62 Nato (308). For shotguns, 12 gauge (best) or 20. Sorry if I left out your favorite round. These choices are made solely on the basis of how likely it will be to find ammo post-SHTF. It doesn’t matter how flat-shooting your custom 6.5×284 Norma is. If you can’t get ammo for it, you basically just have an expensive club.

Will you be able to fix it?

Finding a decent gunsmith is hard now. It will probably even harder post-SHTF and besides could blow your OPSEC. That means you get to fix your guns when they break. Make sure your prepper guns are reliable, easy to fix (simple enough that you can do the work yourself without a lathe or milling machine), and have good parts availability.
In my experience, the following guns are pretty easy to work on, have good, easy to find repair information, and good parts availability:

Ruger 10/22
Just about any Glock
AR-15 and clones
Savage rifles
Remington 870 shotgun

I left off the Colt 1911 and clones because from what I’ve read they’re easy to mess up unless you have a lot of specialized knowledge and skill, in spite of the fact that parts and information on repairing them are easy to get. I have no experience trying to work on other guns, so I won’t comment on them. (If someone would like to donate Smith and Wesson M&P for me to evaluate I’ll be happy to give you my FFL’s contact info)

Some random thoughts on prepper guns…

Stainless steel or melonite barrels and synthetic stocks aren’t as pretty as deep bluing and fancy wood, but they’re low maintenance. Always buy the best guns or parts that you can afford. Besides a good gun, make sure your scope is good quality too. It’s better to put a $200 scope on a $300 rifle than to put an $80 scope on a $1500 rifle. If possible have back up iron sights. The most likely parts to break are firing pins and springs. They’re easy to get and not very expensive,  so get spares now while they’re easy to find. Don’t own a gun without owning some kind of repair manual for it. Always buy the best quality you can afford. Practical is good. Tacticool is dumb. Don’t be this guy:

Now that I’ve talked about general principles I’ll wrap this up. In part 2, I’ll make some specific recommendations.

Peace out,

The best laid plans…

of mice and menMy AR-15 rebuild is temporarily SNAFU. I got my Daniel Defense MFR rail and I really like it (kind of wish I’d gotten the 13.5″ instead of the 10″ though). Like I’d hoped, the barrel nut is the same as the RIS-II. Good so far – no need to remove the gas block. Well, except… oops. When I thought I might have to take it off, I went to DD’s site to find out what kind of Loctite it uses for the screws. Major problem It won’t work with my gas block, which is also from Daniel Defense:

“* Does not fit within the MFR XS”

In my defense, I bought the gas block before the MFR rail was on the market. It’s pretty low profile so I had no reason to think it wouldn’t fit. No problem, I’ll just get a different gas block. I’m sure their Mk12 gas block will work, right? Wrong. OK, I’ll get a new rail. Geissele and LaRue both make quality stuff, they probably have a rail. Nope, at least not one as nice (or light) as the Daniel Defense MFR. So back to looking for a new gas block. Contacted Daniel Defense and they recommended one from SLR Rifleworks. It has two set screws and can also be pinned to the barrel. I’m not a big fan of set screw gas blocks. I don’t feel they’re as secure as the clamp-on style. Also, for this gun I don’t want to drill the barrel for a pinned block. So I guess I’ll order the gas block and dimpling tool and go from there. Not my first choice but it is what it is…

Maybe a new rail?

I did notice on DD’s web site that they have an XL version of the MFR rail that’s just a little fatter than the regular MFR. Maybe it is fat enough to work with the DD gas block? If so it will be tempting, but I already have too much money in this gun and I don’t want to drop another $279 for another rail. Besides, what would I do with my existing MFR? Sell it for a loss? I guess I could use it on an upcoming pistol build if the length is OK. Ah, the joys and frustrations of black rifle disease…

Peace out,