By Tom McHale
This is a review of the Reloading 22LR kits from AMG : http://22lrreloader.com/store/
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you make your own .22LR ammo from scrounged up stuff? Yes, you can!
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:
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.