Reloading 22LR Ammo? Hint: You Can ~ VIDEO

By Tom McHale
This is a review of the Reloading 22LR kits from AMG : http://22lrreloader.com/store/

You may want to stop throwing 22LR brass away.
You may want to stop throwing these away.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- If one of the following things ever happen, you’ll be really glad you read the following article:

Zombies escape their TV and movie confines and start munching on what few and far between brains there still are in the real world.

Simultaneous fires in the iPhone and xBox factories plunge humanity into global rioting.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton team up to create the weirdest presidential ticket ever, and rumors of an all-Kardashian cabinet send civilization as we know it over the precipice.

Hey, statistically, one of these things is bound to happen. It’s only a matter of time, and when it does, I’m thinking .22LR ammo will be the new basis currency, not to mention the primary means of squirrel shopping.

The basic kit is all you really need to get started.
AMG 22LR Reloader : The basic kit is all you need to get started.

As an avid reloader, I’ve told people about a thousand times that you can’t reload .22 ammunition.

Technically, I know you can, but it’s always been one of those things that just seemed like a whole lot of trouble. Unlike centerfire ammunition like 9mm, .45 ACP and .308, there is no removable primer that you can simply replace. That’s important as it’s the primer that converts the kinetic energy of the firing pin strike into a small explosion that ignites the powder charge. Rather, .22LR cartridge cases have a narrow little gap in the inside of the case rim. Manufacturers magically squeeze a little bit of priming compound into this tiny space so that when a .22 gun strikes the very edge of the case rim, the priming compound explodes and ignites the powder charge. After the shot, the priming compound is all burned up, and there’s a dent in the cartridge case from the firing pin strike.

I felt like I should have been doing this in a back room at Studio 54...
I felt like I should have been doing this in a back room at Studio 54…

AMG 22LR Reloader

I recently got my hands on a little kit from AMG (22Reloader.com) or ( amgsporting.com/22lr-reloader/ ) that gives you the tools, and more importantly, instructions you need to reload .22LR ammunition. The basic kit includes a few simple tools that will help you turn those spent cases back into functional ammo. A pliers-like tool serves dual duty as a bullet mold and crimping tool to make sure your new bullet stays in place once reloaded. A small wire tamper and scraper helps you remove old priming compound residue from the spent case and pack new material in there. An eyedropper and funnel help you liquify the replacement priming compound so it can work its way into the case rim and charge the cases with powder. The company offers extra kits and accessories like priming compound ingredients and a resizing die that fits a standard reloading press. We’ll get more into that in a minute.

So I decided to get all survivalist and take a shot at making my own .22LR ammo from scratch…

You can buy this optional priming compound kit to make things easier.
You can buy this optional priming compound kit to make things easier.

The secret to Reloading 22LR Ammo is in the priming

The company provides a priming kit consisting of four mysterious powders with cryptic names like “L2”, “L”, and two bags both marked “S”. Mix these together in the right proportions with the enclosed measuring scoop and you have your own priming compound. Be careful, though, when you’re mixing it dry, too much pressure can set it off. After all, that’s what is supposed to happen. As soon as the four powders are blended into a light gray mix, you drop 1/3 of a small scoop into each .22LR cartridge case.

If you want to be really resourceful, you can retrieve priming material from caps. I guarantee you'll blow some up in the process.
If you want to be really resourceful, you can retrieve priming material from toy caps. I guarantee you’ll blow some up in the process.

Using the company’s priming compound is the easy and most reliable method, but you can make priming compound out of other everyday stuff too. When the world ends and Zombie’s rule, you won’t be able to mail order the AMG priming powder kit anyway, so you’ll need to find a way to improvise. Fortunately, you can make priming compound at home using some inconventional supplies like caps, strike anywhere match heads and the contents of those little party poppers you throw on the ground.

In addition to testing the company provided priming compound, I decided to try making my own using caps that I picked up at Wal-Mart. You can use those plastic cup type or the rolls of paper caps for toy guns. I elected to try my luck with the paper caps.

Using the included AMG packer / scraper tool, you can gently scrape the “make the cap go bang” material and collect it. With the wimpy new caps on the market, you’ll need the guts from eight or ten to get enough priming compound material for a single .22LR cartridge. Oh, don’t get all efficient and collect a big pile all at once. The odds of you setting off one of the caps with the scraper are 15 thousand percent, and that will burn up the pile of material you’ve worked so hard to collect. Ask me how I know…?

The company offers an optional resizing die that works with any standard single-stage reloading press.
The company AMG offers an optional resizing die that works with any standard single-stage reloading press.

Next you’ll add a little liquid. This will help the compound work its way into the nooks and crannies of the cartridge rim and make it inert, so you can pack it into place without blowing anything up. The plan is that you let everything dry thoroughly before moving on to future steps. If you use something that evaporates quickly, like acetone or vodka, the process will be faster.

Oh, one more thing. Read all the instructions carefully. The first step before priming is to scrape all the old primer residue out of the cartridge cases or else they won’t work. Ask me how I know that one too…?

Casting your boollits – Reload .22LR Ammo

Since we’re in survival mode, we can’t assume there are stores that are open to sell .22 caliber projectiles, so we’re going to make our own. Besides, that’s why the AMG includes a casting mold with the. The mold makes two bullets per cast, with one being a 25-grain solid point and the other being a 38-grain round nose.

The provided mold, a bunch of bullets dug out of the ground, a stainless ashtray and an old spoon were enough to get me going casting my own projectiles.
The provided AMG 22LR mold, a bunch of bullets dug out of the ground, a stainless ashtray and an old spoon were enough to get me going casting my own projectiles.

Sticking with my wilderness plan, I opted not to do anything wimpy like buying lead or using an official casting furnace. I wanted to see if I could do this by scrounging everyday stuff. First, I went to Wal-Mart and invested $4.97 in a stainless steel ashtray for my melting pot. When the world ends, you’ll be able to get one free as the looters before you probably won’t steal these. Then, I dug some fired bullets out of the berm at my local range, mostly jacketed ones, but I did find a few all lead projectiles. You could also scrounge lead from other sources like wheel weights on abandoned cars. I tossed my bullets, jackets and all, into my ashtray melting pot and applied heat from a hand-held blow torch.

Yeah, I cheated with the heat source, but only because my wife frowned on my plan of building a wood fire in the garage.

Within just a couple of minutes, the lead melted out of the busted up copper jackets, and I was able to scoop off the unnecessary grunge using a teaspoon I stole from the kitchen. After a few practice runs, I was able to get pretty decent cast bullets.

My melting lead looked a little nasty until I scraped the excess gunk off the top.
My melting lead looked a little nasty until I scraped the excess gunk off the top.

Loading the cartridges – Reload .22LR Ammo

Cases are primed and dried, bullets are cast, so now it’s time to finish some completed cartridges. The instructions provided by AMG gives you some powder charge guidelines for a few different smokeless gun powder brands, but you can also use fine black powder or substitute like Pyrodex.

In a real crunch, you could use more cap and priming material, but that would be a total end of times desperation move.

Once I got the hang of it, I was able to make pretty nice looking bullets from range junk.
Once I got the hang of it, I was able to make pretty nice looking bullets from range junk.

Using the provided funnel, carefully measure the desired amount of powder charge in each case. The .22LR bullets will drop right in, but need to be crimped using the bullet casting mold tool. There’s a cut forward of the two bullet molds for that purpose. You can roll your projectiles around in a little bit of lubricant if you like, but it’s not necessary. Just know that if you fire unlubed bullets, you’ll need to clean your gun a bit more often as lead will accumulate.

After the cases were primed, I used some Unique smokeless power to charge them.
After the cases were primed, I used some Unique smokeless power to charge them.

So…??

Can you make your own .22LR ammo from scrounged up stuff? Yes, you can!

Voila! Completed .22LR cartridges.
Voila! Completed .22LR cartridges.

Is it worth it? If you don’t have a choice, it’s absolutely worth the trouble. However, the process is slow and tedious, so you’re not going to want to do this to save five or ten cents per round.

As with any DIY project, there are some learnings:

  • Be sure to clean the cartridge cases first, especially the interior rim area.
  • Be equally sure to let your priming compound dry completely before loading powder and crimping a bullet.
  • Check your brass to make sure it will fit in your chamber. The company makes a resizing die that will solve this problem if you want to get fancy and make all your brass pickups functional.
  • As far as the firing pin dent on spent brass, you can try to poke it out with a small screwdriver, or you can just load the cartridge so the firing pin will strike in a different spot. That’s what I did.

All in all, this was a pretty enlightening project. The product does what it says, and the instructions are clear as long as you actually read them. Check it out at http://22lrreloader.com/store/ !


Here is AMG 22LR inventor explaining the process in this short video:


About

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • 24 thoughts on “Reloading 22LR Ammo? Hint: You Can ~ VIDEO

    1. It would seem to me that a special tool could be used to remove the crimp. The end of the tool would be like a circle. However half the circumference or less would be the shape of the internal rim. It would work something like a shoe horn. Very quickly. It could be used to pry out that crimp from the firing pin. Then the resizing gear would ensure it is near spec, (take out any over bend.) Copyright 2015 Thomas Paul Murphy

    2. Another way to uncramp the firing pin strike would be to use a process tool head somewhat like how a circle spark plug gapper works. The device is inserted into the spent brass and circular (like how a screw driver works) takes out that crimp as the gradient comes to maximum rim gap at that point on the rim. Copyright 2015 Thomas Paul Murphy

    3. So much easier to make mercury fulminate than to screw around with matches and caps for your primer.

      How long would it take to load 10,000? Every day for a year? How easy is it to buy and stash 10,000 and not have to reload any? If you shot 50 a week it would take you 4 years to deplete your stash….

      Cute tool, totally impractical and unnecessary.

    4. Do you make dies for 22 mag. ?
      Also there has to be a formula for primes?
      What is used inside nipple caps for black powder weapons???
      It has to be something very common. Yes ? I have a die cutter
      That makes Musket Caps from thin sheet of brass or maybe even heavy duty aluminum
      Foil? But there has to be a liquid they used during the time of musket and black powder
      Firearms. The primers had to be made by the shooters, people could not go to a
      Store or town every time they needed primer caps ! Now black powder could be made
      In the wilderness as could lead projectiles. So any one should have been able to make the
      Caps as well???
      This primer material use in the 1800’s and 1900’s and even today could be used
      In 22 and 22 mag. Brass to do this reloading. If you find out how or what they
      Used back then I would hope you would forward this info to me for this lead?
      I Also would want the 22 L.R. Dies and I would want a 22 mag. Dies as well.
      The 22 mag. Dies are at the top of the list because there more expensive to
      Shoot and harder to buy. Now 22 mag. Brass Rounds are longer and are bigger in
      Diameter as well. As a pro- reloaded 22 mag reloads could sell.
      Now as for the hammer strike that dents the primers on 22 brass
      I can show you how to build a tool that could help remove some of the dent but it would depend on the firing pin of the weapons firing them. Some firing pens hit hard and deep leaving damaging
      Strikes or dents.
      Please advise
      Randy Jones
      386-916-7446 ( call or Text 24/7 )
      rnbbjones@gmail.com

    5. I believe in the “hoarding” part but I would still get this kit and accessories as a plan “B” because you never know what will happen.

    6. I would think that you could use a common nail 6pny,8pny,10pny, what ever. Just grind the head if necessary so it fits the inside of the rim. If you put the case in the sizing die it would allow you to force the nail head into the rim using a screw driver and the nail head would fit better than almost anything else, I think so anyway. Also you could tap the nail lightly so as to take out any of the dent that remains.

    7. Many years ago back in the early 60’s a friend of mine down in South Louisiana tried his hand at reloading
      .22 ammo. He made the molds to cast bullets, collected empty shell casings and proceeded to experiment
      with reloading. His first attempt was not successful but as a WW II EOD specialist who went thru
      Europe and worked at Redstone arsenal after he retired from the Army. He told us that he and some of
      the guys he worked with had experimented with reloading .22 ammo to see if it was practical and could be done
      by the layman safely. I know he made some ammo that worked quite well in my single shot, bolt action
      Remington rifle. He did it as a hobby and also made primer caps for his percussion rifle. His ammo worked
      quite well and so did his primer caps. He showed us how to use Fulminate of Mercury for the primer and explained
      that it need to be well ventilated and you had to be extremely careful or you would have a serious accident.
      He also experimented with various compounds to make his primer material. I know he used small brass tubing
      to make his primer caps. They were not pretty but they worked. That was a very long time ago and I always
      wondered why we never saw more about it till I tried my hand at reloading.

    8. I hope you cleaned your firearms after using fulminate of mercury. It is the reason the bore in many older weapons is found to be in very poor/pitted condition.

    9. Interesting. I’ve seen this before somewhere.
      $160 for the complete set of stuff.
      Hmmm. That would buy 2000 rounds at $.08 per round average price these days.
      Much easier if you can it!

    10. Just buy yourself a small caliber center fire gun and save your fired brass. When live ammo becomes unobtainable you’ll have a supply of brass that’s a hell of a lot easier to reload and more reliable when you press the ‘bang switch’.

    11. Didn’t know this was so easy to do. I actually would be far more interested in adapting this process to 25 Stevens and 32 Stevens. Those are somewhat more difficult to find than 22 lr.

    12. RH – If you actually read the article, you’ll see that it said exactly that. If you’re looking to say 5 or 10 cents per round, this is not your Huckleberry. Where this type of process gets used is in the bush, trappers, and plenty in other countries where things like number of rounds of ammunition of any kind are severely limited. Plus, it’s fun.

    13. Wake up people. This article is NOT designed to get people to reload their own .22. This is to show that it can be done, and also what is needed if you are interested in doing it in a SHTF senario. As for me, I already have 2500 rounds cached!

    14. 2500 rounds? About 5 Bulk packs (500+ rounds/per)
      Back in the day (15 years ago) Big 5 Sporting Goods use to have regular ‘specials’ – 500+ round bulk packs as low as $8. I always tried to snag a few – just in case. I don’t have an exact count but i must have at least 25.
      But that is nothing:, at age 13 I remember yhe local Western Auto sold 22lr around $1.00/50, 22 Long about 85 cents, Shorts about 70 cents. But I also remember a new Jag XKE (my dream car) was about $6500 at the same time!

      1. I have 10 boxes of Winchester Wildcat .22 LR ammo that were bought in a Dallas K-Mart in the late 1990’s. The price sticker says, “88 cents.” That is even cheaper than when I was a kid, a half century ago.
        While I have enough .22 ammo stashed for most conceivable scenarios it is kind of neat to see that it is possible to load those old empty .22 cases. I just may have to stop tossing them into the “brass bucket’ for recycling.
        Now we need a way to reload primers (with watchmaker’s tools?).

    15. It would seem to me that a special tool could be used to remove the crimp. The end of the tool would be like a circle. However half the circumference or less would be the shape of the internal rim. It would work something like a shoe horn. Very quickly. It could be used to pry out that crimp from the firing pin. Then the resizing gear would ensure it is near spec, (take out any over bend.) Copyright 2015 Thomas Paul Murphy

      Copyright? For transformitive purposes, I will be posting this comment on every .22 blog, forum and video I come across.

    16. An empty tuna fish can works fine to melt the lead. You can even cut the bottom off an aluminum soda can to use to melt the lead. Tire weights make good bullets. But, if one can stash the supplies needed to reload 22lr rounds, one could just as easily stash a cache of bricks of 22. Even vacuum seal the bricks in plastic so the cache stays easy to identify as a post Zombie stash. Will 22lr kill a Zombie ?

    17. My big question is also—HOW DID THEY SHOOT? What was the average group size at 25 yards…how reliable were they? Did they carry well, or come apart in one’s pocket?

      Thanks for the article. Creative, and thought-provoking.

    18. Precaution: Make sure you melt the lead in a well vinulated area and don’t breath in of the fumes or get it on your skin. I would use surgical gloves when handling any kind of lead and also have on a respirator when around the fumes. Fumes from lead is not good for your lungs at all and could cause cancer. Better to be over cautious.
      I do hand load my own .410 shells with a powder dipper and a few tools from my tool box. I don’t crimp the shell, as it is more of a problem and shells will wear out in the crimped area much more quickly. Instead, I light a candle and let the liquid drop onto the shot. You do have to clean you .410 more often from the candle wax that goes through the barrel. This saves a lot of money. Just goggle it under how to reload you own .410 shells. I found one video very helpful and there is little to the process of this reloading. I figure it cost me something like $1.00 to reload a box of 25. Look at the prices in stores.

    19. The ONE video on youtube where the guy went to actually SHOOT these produced terrible results. He couldn’t get them to group at all.

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