Ammo shortage in Pennsylvania and beyond ignites a boom in reloading 

During the COWID-19 pandemic, Dustin Krause from Rock decided it was a good time to learn how to reload his own ammo. This is what his grandfather, family friends, and future father-in-law had been doing for years, so he knew he would have no shortage of competent mentors.

One such mentor is Tom Brown, a neighbor and member of the hunting camp, who recently decided to entrust his reloading equipment to a young hunter eager to learn.

Tom decided against reloading because he didn’t have the necessary cartridges, Krause says. I was lucky enough to get four of his shotguns and a bunch of old stocks, which is great because a lot of stocks are hard to find and pretty expensive to begin with.

Larry Primeau, a Swopes Valley resident who has been restarting since the 1980s, concurred with Krause’s comments.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have seen shortages and rationing of parts, as well as price increases – sometimes by 20 to 200 percent, the prime minister said.

But if people are open to the different components they can get used to, they can handle it.

For example, he used 4831 powder for his .270 Winchester for years. It’s been exhausted everywhere for six months.

Fortunately, there are a dozen other powders, Primeau said. The only problem is that every time you change rifles, you have to review the loads and tolerances for your individual rifle, based on the twist, the available bullet weight, and even the type of detonator.

Limited availability can be frustrating for local consumers, but shortages do not appear to be unique to Pennsylvania. Chad Schrier from Montana noted that ammunition is virtually unavailable and even reloading is difficult.

The powder is still somewhat available, but it is very limited. The primers are out. There’s also very good single-shot brass here, Schrier said before making a six-hour trip across the state in search of supplies, finding a few rifle cartridges and a few varieties of gunpowder at Cabela’s in Kalispell.

Eventually, people started hoarding again because of COWID, and it all got very tense as the election approached, Schrier complained.

Certainly, firearms, ammunition and shooting supplies are hard to come by these days. Since its founding in 1946, Redding Reloading Equipment, based in Cortland, NY, has consistently pursued reloading economics as a method of reducing the cost of participating in the shooting sports.

Executive Vice President Robin Sharpless recently noted that there is historic demand for his products and even said that there has never been more interest in reboots.

Reloading went the way of 9mm ammo. There are absolutely crazy things happening in the market and we are suffering from a 14 to 16 week delay on some of our orders, Sharpless said.

While it hasn’t been easy to keep up with consumer demand, Sharpless says the biggest advantage is that cost coverage has never been better for installed reloaders or for those lucky enough to find a starter kit like Redding’s Propac, which comes with a press in the package.

Equipment is not cheap, and cost recovery is always an issue for a newcomer, Sharpless said. The return on investment is by far the fastest I’ve ever seen, considering the high cost of ammo, if available.

Because of the shortage of ammunition this year, the reimbursement interval for necessary equipment has been significantly reduced, Sharpless said.

Traditionally, the cost of reloading should be about half the cost of new ammunition with similar components, he said. Smart buyers can even reduce the cost of parts and increase the benefit ratio.

Based on December 2020 figures, Sharpless provided the following price comparison as an example:

When you consider that the cost of regular loading cartridges like the SS109 5.56 runs up to $39.89 per box of 20 (almost $2.00 per cartridge), and the loading cost of about $0.30 with quality parts and 55-60 grain bullets yields a similar loading cartridge – the savings are much more substantial.

At $1.70 per turn, the time it takes to restore the value of the equipment is significantly shorter, he said. Of course, it also depends on the number of patterns you use per month, and this variable will affect the schedule.

But two years ago, SS109 was readily available for $5.99 for a box of 20 and could be loaded for just over half that amount, Sharpless said.

However, the cost of parts is also rising, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find them, he added. But the reset is still a good economic decision that has improved with the current situation in the market and in the country.

However, Mr Charless also pointed out that the initial investment in the necessary equipment may be more than a reasonable consumer can bear, and he stressed that the decision to make a fresh start should not be based solely on financial considerations.

Rather, it should be considered an entertaining hobby, he noted, much like Dustin Krause’s main motivation for the reboot.  He decided to take up this new hobby because of family traditions and his interest in reloading.

At the moment I only reload for fun – I really only need the cartridges for hunting and for bullet slinging, he says. Lucky for me, Tom had everything he needed to get started. I tried to order some accessories, but most are hard to find or order.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times.

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