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It’s Reloading Time

Several days of ridiculously nice weather had me itching to take the AR-15 to the range, but suddenly realizing I’m way too low on .223 ammo interfered with my plans. Looking online, ammunition is still scarce and expensive, so it’s time to dust off the reloading bench. Fortunately, I still have plenty of Varget, plenty of 55gr bullets, and a metric crapload of once fired .223 brass. I’m going to fill up all my plastic containers, so my goal is 250 rounds.

I also figure as long as I’m getting everything together, I might as well finish off all my once fired 6.8 Remington SPC and get the rest of those loaded. It’s not more than 50 rounds, but I never really shoot the 6.8 AR. I don’t look all that favorably on boutique rounds these days, and I’d sort of sorry I made an investment in it. My remaining 6.8 once fired brass is stuff I brought back from the Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno, years ago, so it gives you an idea of how seldom I shoot that caliber.

I think the next AR I build needs to be a .22LR. It’s hard to have less than several thousand rounds on hand, and it’s cheap.

21 Responses to “It’s Reloading Time”

  1. Ian says:

    Thats funny cause I reload and since I have I hardly shoot my 5.56 and mostly shoot my 6.8.

  2. McThag says:

    I really hate to see 6.8 described as a boutique round. I thought for sure it’d be more mainstream than it’s managed to become by now.

    Still, I’m trending five rounds of 6.8 for every round of 5.56 lately. One of my 6.8 AR’s is just perfect for me, so I reach for that one in preference to the others.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I don’t mean to demean the 6.8 round. If you were going to outright replace the 5.56 NATO round, it’s the best contender I’ve seen. But it has some things working against it.

    1. The bullet weights 3x as much as the standard 55gr .223 round, which means 3x the cost in lead and copper.
    2. It takes slightly more powder than the the .223, and I’ve found that there are fewer powders suitable to it, because it needs a fast burning powder.
    3. The AR platform seems to be much harder on the brass with 6.8 SPC than .223.
    4. Commercially loaded 6.8 is too damned expensive.

    So there it is, I think. The problem with rounds that just aren’t widely used is that they aren’t widely used, so the ecosystem for them isn’t as great. I can buy a metric shitload more .223 bullets than I can equivalent 6.8 bullets. I get the purpose of 6.8, but for honing my shooting skills, I can do that much easier and cheaper with .223.

    • aeronathan says:

      That’s what I keep coming up against. I built a 6.8mm AR about 3 years ago and as of yet I haven’t shot it. Every time I pull it out I think about how much $$ is going down range, put it back and grab a 5.56….

    • McThag says:

      I don’t feel like you demeaned it, I was just bemoaning its lack of success.

      It is such a vicious cycle. If people don’t buy it (because it’s expensive) then the price never comes down.

      When you have surplus ammo to compare price to, it seems even more expensive. Oh and surplus brass makes some rounds cheaper too.

      I know more than one reloader (now) who would lord the price of ammo over me; now those WW2 supplies have all dried up and their ammo is a lot more expensive than mine. I remember when 8mm mauser was cheap! Then those heady days when NATO countries were shedding 7.62×51 while adopting 5.56x45mm…

      Cheap today expensive tomorrow. .44-40 and .45 Colt used to be super cheap.

  4. AZRon says:

    I remember being young. I’ve also had my fair share of boutique chamberings, which I happily reloaded on a single-stage press for hours on end.

    And yes, the 6.8 is “boutique”.

    Older and perhaps wiser, I’ve decided that if you can’t buy it at a hardware store in Mozambique, then it’s a “hobby” round.

    .22, .223, .45 and .308 cover 99% of every need without getting silly, and are nearly universal in application.

    If (and when) I win the lottery, I may schedule a safari in Africa. At that time, I might buy a .505 Gibbs double rifle. Until then, I’ll be happy with what I have.

    Oh, and by the way, have you tried IMR 3031?

    I should also point out that since I don’t buy lottery tickets, my chances of winning are slim to none.

    • Sendarius says:

      Doesn’t it suck that they have that rule that you must buy a ticket to win?

      Alternately, you could be like the woman recently who CLAIMED to have the winning ticket. Funny how they didn’t believe her.

    • Zermoid says:

      Your chances of winning don’t go up appreciably if you DO buy a ticket either…….

  5. asdf says:

    Nothing but 9mm, .223, and 2 3/4″ 12ga shells for me, for the same reason….

    • asdf says:

      Oh, and .38spl too but that’s it. Basically, if it can’t be used as currency, it’s not common enough to be practical in my view.

      • Zermoid says:

        Wow, I thought I didn’t reload many…….
        Reload for:
        12 Ga 2 3/4″
        45 ACP
        44 Mag
        380 ACP
        30-30 Win
        6.5×55 Swede (you almost HAVE to reload to shoot it….)
        30 M1 Carbine

        Shoot but don’t reload for (yet):
        7.62×39
        7.62x51R
        25ACP – (Have you priced that lately?)

  6. Overthetop says:

    Buying the CMMG .22lr conversion kit for my AR has saved me much more $$ than the cost of the kit. You should buy a dedicated .22lr upper and slap it on your 6.8 setup. If you needed the 6.8, it’s only seconds away.

  7. Ian says:

    The best powder for 6.8 that is easy on the brass is AA2200

  8. Andy B. says:

    About 30+ years ago, when I was somewhat enthralled with the “survivalist” fad, and old guy who had fought from Normandy eastward and then did occupation duty for awhile told me, “In any survival situation, find the military and latch on to them as best you can. They’ll have the best stuff and they always take care of themselves.” (He told stories about how Germans who did that prospered relative to everyone else.)

    Anyway, I always thought that was a good metaphor for choosing “practical” calibers.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’m moving more toward that philosophy as well. In a shit hits the fan situation, I always figured a lot of my collection could get bartered for things I need. But I’d bet firearms that fire oddball rounds won’t be worth much in that situation. Who wants a gun you can’t really find ammo for?

      • Andy B. says:

        One of my dad’s memories was of feeling lucky because he managed to finagle the purchase of five rounds of 8 x 57 ammo at M&Hs in Philly, in 1942, and making it last through the deer seasons of WWII. Obviously he didn’t do a lot of practicing, but getting any ammo at all was tough.

  9. Have you thought about getting an upper in 5.45×39? I know S&W makes one and I’m sure there are others. You can still buy spam cans containing 1040 rounds for about $160.

    The Russian stuff isn’t reloadable and is corrosive but it’s cheap and full powered.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’ve thought about it, but how does the AR’s gas system deal with the corrosive ammo? I have a whole bunch of that ammo for my AK-74, and I never shoot it because I hate to have to clean the rifle every time I take it out.

      • Zermoid says:

        Thorough strip down and cleaning with corrosive ammo neutralizer. If you can’t find that a hot soapy water bath should help, they are salts, which should be dissolved by water I’d think. Clean with regular solvent, then a hot bath, dry and oil well.

        Hot soapy water works for muzzle loaders, and black powder is also very corrosive, should work for corrosive CF rifles too.

      • Zermoid says:

        I was also brought up in the “you fire it, you clean it” mentality. Only exception was 22′s which were only cleaned when alot of gunk built up. Anything CF was to be cleaned as soon as it came in the house!

        I do resist the urge to clean during deer season, but it isn’t easy…..

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