I often thought that if ammunition manufacturers got together with firearms manufacturers, they could offer a starter kit like, purchase 50 boxes of ammunition and we’ll throw in a firearm in the kit along with a pack of 50 targets and a cleaning kit, especially on the larger caliber rifles and handguns.
Since the manufacturers are apparently not ready for that line of thinking, we shooters must muddle along as well as we can to try to come by enough ammunition to keep us shooting without having to take out a second mortgage on the old homestead.
A prime example is ammunition for my 45/70 Government. Every time I pull the trigger, the cash register can ring up two to four dollars when using factory ammunition depending on the manufacturer. The price of the rifle will soon pale next to the cost of the ammunition if you shoot enough to become and remain proficient.
If you shoot one of the popular semi-automatic AR designs in 223 Remington (5.56 mm) or .308 Winchester (7.62×51 NATO), you can spend one dollar and up for each shot of American made ammunition.
One excellent solution is to load your own. As a serious shooter, I can wholeheartedly recommend that approach. Reloading your own ammunition allows one to create a custom load for each shooting situation for a specific firearm and get the maximum results. It will also save you a considerable amount of money per shot and the more you shoot the lower the cost per round.
Another example is .308 Winchester ammunition; once I have the brass, I can load a Sierra 150 grain Boat Tail Spitzer bullet, powder and primers and it costs me around thirty-seven cents each.
Now, the downside to reloading.
It takes time, patience and requires accurate record keeping. I also shoot more, thereby nullifying the net cost savings gained over using factory ammunition. But as I can afford to shoot more, I enjoy my sport more. Do not mention this paragraph when trying to sell the cost efficiency to your spouse.
Another source of potentially low-cost ammunition can be found at gun shows and many gun shops. This is especially true with the popular military-size ammunition like the .223 Remington (5.56) and the .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO). Also, there is the ammunition for the AK-47, which is the 7.62×39. Other calibers for handguns as well as rifles are available too.
Most of it that is for sale cheap is foreign made or a surplus lot of military ammunition from God only knows what country. Foreign made ammunition at gun shows is not all necessarily bad ammunition, but let me tell you of some of the things you can run into.
Inconsistencies in shot placement on the target is one of the things that can drive you right up a wall if you are after anything more than making the gun go bang. Many things can cause this problem, and old ammunition is not the least of them. Some foreign manufacturers are not as picky about the consistency of their military ammunition as are the American manufacturers.
Then there is the choice of bullets. On surplus military ammunition, you usually get full-metal jacketed ball bullets. They are good for punching small holes in paper and that is about it.
As a hunting round, they are about the last pick. Even if you find some good old U.S. built match ammunition, they are target loads and not fit for hunting.
Now, let’s move on to another real problem that can come with the use of cheap foreign made ammunition.
Corrosive primers can cause you problems from one end of the metal work of your firearm to the other if you are not timely, thorough and meticulous in cleaning your firearm after shooting. Shooting this type of ammunition in a gas operated semi-automatic action will require a complete tear down and cleaning of the gas system as well as the rest of the metal. If you fail to do that, the gun could become permanently damaged.
Another possible problem with purchasing no-name bagged ammunition is you really do not know what you are getting. There is always the question of safety. I am by no means proclaiming ammunition unsafe because it does not have a major manufacturer’s name on it, but you have to admit it is more warm and fuzzy to have a name like Winchester or Remington on the ammo box when at the firing line.
Other drawbacks can come if you plan to reload some military ammunition after you shoot it like Berdan primers, steel cases and crimped primers.
When it comes to buying ammunition, the lowest price may be a good deal — or it may not be the best way to go. If you can purchase a small amount of the ammunition, shoot it to see what kind of results you get before you invest in 500 or 1,000 rounds that may not function like you want them to in your particular firearm.