The Field Portable Reloading Kit

The Field Portable Reloading Kit

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As a teenager I read everything I could about Survivalism, and wanted to be as prepared as possible to carry what I needed on my back. Although I no longer think that the “Backpack Bugout” plan is the primary thing to do when the SHTF. I still like to keep things as portable as possible, or at least have a portable back up to something more heavy duty in my home.

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One of the things I was concerned about was my ammo supply, and how I could maintain it if I could not access factory loaded ammo. I read some articles in Survive/American Survival Guide (Feb., Mar ’84/ Feb ’85 and Dec ’87, yup, still have ’em) about portable hand loading and case improvisation (.45ACP/.308, 9mm/.223, etc.), and the Lee hand Press kit, and realized it was the perfect base to build a portable reloading kit from.

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OK, so we’ve started with the reloading press that comes with a few accessories such as the Ram Prime for priming cartridges, a tube of brass resizing lubricant, and a powder funnel. Next, you need reloading dies for your specific cartridge. In this kit I have Lee Precision dies for 7.62x39s rifle, and .45ACP pistol, because they both work very well with cast lead bullets.

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Next I have Lyman bullet moulds for both cartridges. The 7.62x39s has a 160 grain two bullet mould, and the .45ACP has a 225 grain two bullet mould. I like the Lyman moulds because I can use one set of handles for both. Along with the bullet moulds you will need a lead dipper (mine’s a Lyman)  to pour lead into the moulds. I also use a small cast iron pan from Cabelas (Cracker Barrel has ’em too) to melt the lead initially, as it can be held over a fire with a multi tool, or attach a thick green branch to its handle with hose clamps.

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If you are making/casting bullets, you will need sizing dies for those bullets to make them all of a uniform diameter. I use the Lee sizing dies (7.62x39s and .45ACP) because I can size them using the press instead of a separate sizing press.

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Last but not least will be a case deburring tool (mine’s a Lyman) for taking the burrs off of the case mouth after you trim it. You will be shortening the brass as it gets stretched out from being fired. The shortening can be done with a multi tool file, but you definitely need a deburring tool after doing so.

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After all is said and done, you have a portable reloading kit that weighs a little under 10 pounds. With the addition of your empty brass, you’ve hung on to, and the smokeless powder, primers, bullet and case lube and gas checks (if needed for one or both of your cast bullet types) you have in your cache, you can completely reload your cartridges in the field.

Whether you want to carry your kit with you, or place it in a cache, this kit will do what you need, when you need it to, and it’s as compact as a complete reloading kit can be. There are some who would use one of these. It dispenses with the need for a press, but without the press, you can’t size bullets or full length resize your brass.

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I will not discuss loading data here. There is a number of factors that go into it, and you need to do your own research on that info. This post is just to give you some insight into my kit, and maybe some ideas to send you in the right direction.

I have multiple kits like this for different calibers. When I first wrote this post a couple years ago, I used the 7.62x39S/.45ACP kit because it was sitting in the storage room and my .308/,45ACP kits were in a pack or a cache because they are my go to calibers (did you know you can make .45ACP brass out of .308Win brass?).

The contents of THIS kit have never been used, but other kits have, and in the field. The only item difference between my .308 kit and the 7.62x39S is the caliber specific die set. The bullet mould and everything else is the same. Keep something in mind, reloading in the field is not “optimal”. Casting bullets in the field, whether for smokeless or blackpowder firearms, is not “optimal. Having to scrounge empty brass in the field is definitely not “optimal”!

DSA brass catcher mounted on a ParaFAL

I have the ability to save brass in the field when using my primary rifle (FAL). This is with the help of a brass catcher made by DSA. It plugs directly into the upper receiver and gives me the option of holding the brass or opening the bottom, velcro secured, opening to let the brass fall at my feet. Brass catchers are available for most semi automatic mil type rifles (one AK type here).

Two views of the brass catcher with the bottom open and closed.

If you have the option, you won’t be scrounging wheel weights for bullet casting because you’ve layed up copper jacketed, commercially made bullets in the multiple caches you have extra powder and primers in. This is after you have laid back AT LEAST a case or two of commercially loaded ammo for the calibers in question and a ton of spare parts.

This post is about options for worst case. I can reload in the field. I can make bullets for my rifle and pistol in the field. If it’s not that bad, so much the better.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
Some Airgun Options For The Survivalist

Some Airgun Options For The Survivalist

When I was a youngster, I received an airgun for my eighth birthday, and it became the central focus for many an adventure that I went on during that time in my life. I learned to hunt with that air rifle, long before I ever carried a real firearm in the field, and I know that is true for many others of you out there. My Daisy 840 and me were inseparable, and the worst punishment in the world at that time, was to get my BB gun taken away. In this post I’m going to discuss two airguns that I have, and what they are used for.

Years ago I had decided that there are two reasons why I would have airguns in my inventory and those were training, and hunting small game. Fast forward to a few years ago. At that time I was looking at preps for a bugout scenario, or a scenario that involves not having firearms available. I had owned a Crossman 1377 pistol (this is the newer model still available) back in the early 90’s, and ended up trading it off for something else that probably got traded off for something else…… Long story short, I know that I had shot a number of squirrels and rabbits with that 1377 pistol, and I said “Why not?”, and ordered one.

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My Crossman 1377 with shoulder stock. Two tins of pointed hunting pellets shown here. A 500 pellet tin on the left and a 250 pellet tin on the right.

One of the things I wished I’d had back then was a shoulder stock. The 1377 pistol is designed to take one shown here, and the rear sight actually flips upside down so you can use a peep sight with the shoulder stock attached.

Crossman 1377’s flip over rear sight. A peep sight makes perfect sense if you have a shoulder stock.

The Crossman 1377 pistol is a pump air gun. With 10 pumps it develops 600 feet per second in muzzle velocity. 600 FPS muzzle velocity is considered plenty of velocity for an airgun to kill small game such as rabbits and squirrels (At 25 meters, the pellet is going around 450-500 fps), as long as you can place the shot accurately in the head (yes, you can kill it if you hit their heart, but it is a harder, small target to define the location in their chest). The 1377 is plenty accurate enough at 25 meters to hit “Minute of Squirrel Head”, as can be seen in the below photo.

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Three shot fired from an improvised rest (I was resting my side against a vehicle, and my support hand on the side of the quarter panel). I’d say that’s “Minute of Squirrel Head”. A quarter is 1 inch.

A weaver type scope base is available for this air gun, but one of the reasons I wanted this air gun was due to how compact and lightweight it is. A scope would add to the weight, and take away from it’s compactness. The irons are plenty accurate. It is easy enough just to strap this air gun to the side of a ruck, and forget it is there until you need a quiet game getter.

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Which one is real?

So we’ve discussed my choice for a packable small game air gun, now lets talk about the “trainer” I use. A few years ago, I came across a CO2 powered air rifle being sold under the Winchester name. It is called the M14 (read the reviews here to get an idea of what people think of it), and as the name implies, it’s the spitting image of it’s cartridge firing namesake.

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The reason I bought this rifle was to have an air gun that had the feel (grip, safety, etc. but at around 4 lbs, not the weight), shape, and sights of a military rifle (they would make a killin’ if they made this for FAL’s, etc.). This rifle is plenty powerful enough to kill squirrels and rabbits, but it’s main purpose is as a trainer. I am not a fan of CO2, but nothing else will give you the ability to take multiple target snap shots without some form of cocking or pumping mechanism. This rifle would be the perfect clandestine trainer for a resistance group in a city, or a Survivalist group in the country that doesn’t want to give away their position by firing actual firearms (don’t want to attract the “zombies”, right?) and use M14 type rifles as their rifle pick.

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The CO2 cartridge holder with the key that torques the cartridges into the piercing mechanism.

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Besides the normal M14 type “mag catch” there is another catch below that one (on the back of the fake mag) to keep from having the CO2 holder fall onto the ground. The CO2 cartridges also operate the charging handle mechanism (yes, it reciprocates).

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The eight shot cylindrical magazine. There is an identical 8 shot cylinder on the other end of the magazine as well.

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16 shot magazine pictured

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The 16 shot magazine being placed into the mag well. The mag release is the button on the left side of the rifle, just below center (left side in picture) on the fake “Mag” that is pictured.

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Front sight in a standard military rifle configuration. It’s a little wide (approximately the width of a tritium M14 front sight), but I didn’t get it as a target rifle. I could easily file it down on both sides (it’s plastic) if I wanted more precision, but I also am keeping it’s intended use in perspective.

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The rear peep is plenty small enough for accurate shooting.

Some key points to remember. First, it’s not a target rifle, but is still pretty accurate. Two, it mimics enough of the features of the M14/M1A military rifle to make it beneficial in training (get an air rifle with controls like your defensive rifle), especially if you run an M1A (here’s just one AR version). Three, running on CO2 (buy them in bulk, $22 for 40), and pellets is still a lot cheaper than firing centerfire cartridges or even .22LR.

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Last, but not least on our list of things to cover is ammo. In this case, I can use either BB’s or .177 caliber pellets for either air gun I’ve mentioned (can’t do that in the high end pellet guns). I use the 7.4 grain pointed pellets for hunting with my 1377, and I use both the pointed pellets, and BB’s out of my “M14”. Considering that BB’s are about $3.50 for 2400, and the hunting pellets are almost $4 for 250, it makes sense to train with BB’s, and not hunting pellets. However, the “M14” is plenty accurate with the hunting pellets, in case I needed to use it to hunt with.

 

Do I have or use some of the higher end Gamo, Beeman, or RWS air rifles? No. I don’t have a problem with those kinds of air guns, and I’ve heard they shoot accurately, and are very hard hitting. For me, they just don’t fit into what I need an air rifle for. Those rifles are full size, full weight tools, and I don’t see myself hunting for small game with a full sized air rifle in my hands, while having a full sized defensive rifle on my back (don’t leave home without it in TEOTWAWKISTAN). As I said in the “Blackpowder” post, this is an option to go to instead of cartridge firearms, that is all. Options are choices. More choices make survival more certain.

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Gamo has earned a good reputation in the air rifle market. They are generally economical, durable tools that fit a niche in the preparations  of some Survivalists

For something around your retreat domicile, there is probably nothing better than one of the Gamo rifles I’ve seen advertised. I’ve heard from friends that they are super accurate. The velocity thing only goes so far (once you get above the speed of sound, you give up the quiet advantage of an air rifle). If that is what you’re looking for, This rifle from Gamo is probably the ticket in price, and capability. The description is a little misleading, since the 1200 fps velocity they are talking about is with PBA ammo (super light pellets), and it actually shoots lead pellets at around 1.000 fps, here’s the Gamo link. If I buy an air rifle of this type, this will probably be the one I buy.

This is just one more tool to think about for your preps. Do you have to have an air gun? No. Can it make certain situations more survivable? Yes, it can. Weigh your options (literally), and draw your own conclusions. As I’ve said many times, these are my experiences with the different tools I’ve discussed. Your mileage may vary.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

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Anyone know the significance of this rifle

While growing up, I was fascinated with the era between the French and Indian War, and the Civil War. I’m a fan of all types of historic blackpowder firearms, but at that time, I was enamored with the breechloading 1859 Sharps Berdan rifle. In comparison to today’s rifles, it was the M14 DMR of it’s era.

 

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1859 .54 caliber Sharps Berdan Rifle

OK, enough of the childhood nostalgia. So JC, why is a flintlock blackpowder firearm important in your survivalist preps? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, we know that your ammo storage for your cartridge firearms is not limitless, right? Second, if you’re going to be hunting for your food as well as trapping it (you do have your supply of conibear traps and snares acquired, right?), which would you rather use for that hunting firearm?  One that uses ammo that will eventually run out, or one that has the ability to scrounge all the items needed to reload it?

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I’m a big fan of carbines, but this just isn”t practical for a SHTF hunting scenario

In this post we are going to talk about flintlock firearms. What about percussion firearms JC? Well, considering that the only difference between the needed items for percussion and cartridge firearms is a percussion cap or a primer (the original cartridge firearms used black powder, that’s what the last number in 30/30, 45/70, 44/40, etc. means, That’s the blackpowder charge weight in grains), and the addition or subtraction of a brass cartridge, it doesn’t have the versatility of a flintlock.

Flints (the ignition source) are able to be found in nature, something that can’t be said about percussion caps or primers. Blackpowder (and substitutes) can be made at home if you do your homework. Yes, I know you can reactivate primers (percussion caps usually blow apart), but the process is too much to put effort into for a hunting gun, considering that flintlock firearms are available.

 

First, let’s look at how the flintlock system works, and what the major parts do in that system. The primary parts are the hammer with flint attached, the frizzen that the flint/hammer combination strikes to create the shower of sparks, and the pan which holds the blackpowder that is ignited by the sparks created by contact between the flint and frizzen. That spark goes through a flash hole touching off the charge in the barrel behind the ball. I’m not going to get into minute details about the ignition system, but suffice it to say that it works well.

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Next, we’ll talk about the system that holds the bullet. There are two types of of barrels, smoothbore and rifled. The flintlock rifles at the top of the post are a .69 caliber smoothbore along with the .66 caliber Paget carbine. Along with being a breech loading system, the Sharps Berdan rifle pictured is a rifle .54 caliber percussion system. The flintlock firearms I use are rifled, but I have a friend who uses a 62. caliber (20 gauge) Trade Gun to hunt everything from squirrel to deer.

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The advantage of smoothbores is the same as modern shotguns. The variety of loads that can be fired from a shotgun is hard to beat. In this case, you can load shot (small, medium game), Ball (big game, and defense if needed), or buck and ball (generally for defense). As I said, they are like a shotgun in their versatility, but the downside to a smoothbore shotgun is accuracy at range, and it applies in this case as well. Smoothbores also take longer to foul than rifled barrels, which in turn fouling makes it harder to load  (this is one of the reasons most military arms were muskets back then)

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Note the muzzle end of this guys rifle in “Jeremiah Johnson”. It is a combo gun, which has a rifled barrel on the left and a smoothbore shotgun on the right.

When it comes to rifled barrel flintlocks, your long range accuracy is only limited by your mastery of the system (they call it a “flinchlock” for a reason), shooting capability, the type of bullet/load you use (patch thickness, the ball or conical bullet’s  concentricity, etc.), the type of action (set trigger or not), and the sights (buckhorn or peep) you use. The primary benefit of a rifled flintlock is placing a bullet accurately on target at distance.

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Lyman .50 caliber Plains Rifle (left handed), and a Pedersoli .50 caliber Kentucky pistol.

On to the point of this post. I have used flintlock firearms for well over 25 years now, and although they have their quirks, if you take the time to learn the “in’s and out’s”, I believe they will do what you need them to do in a SHTF survival situation. I’m a big fan of .50 calibers. First, I like the Fifty cal. because it is big enough to get the job done on large game (round ball is 188 grains in weight), when smaller calibers start to fizzle out (it’s like comparing a 12 and 20 gauge). Second, when it comes to cleaning supplies, you can use a number of the brushes, patches, etc. that you will find as surplus for military .50 cal weapons.

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Here are the different blackpowder granule sizes. Note that the .50 caliber is the only caliber where it is recommended to use FFg or FFFg

Third, the .50 caliber is what I call the “transitional” blackpowder caliber when it comes to what size powder you use in a given caliber (I also use FFFg in the pan). This gives you more versatility with what you can use after SHTF. I have used Conical type (aka Maxi balls) bullets through my muzzleloaders that had the correct rifling twist for it, and I wasn’t all that impressed. I also don’t want to plan on using conicals because they usually weigh double and use twice as much lead as a round ball does (not as efficient). I have and have used conicals from this mould.  

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These are some basic load guidelines

When considering twist rates, generally there are three that I’ve used in rifles. 1-66″ is for roundball, and does very well with them, but sucks with anything else. 1-48″, which does acceptably with both round ball and conicals. and 1-32″, which is designed for modern bullets and higher velocities (1-18″ is a rifling twist for pistols). I personally use the 1-66″ twist. Although the 1-48″ seems to be the best for versatility, I don’t plan on using conicals, and if I had gotten hold of some, I’d recast one conical into two round balls. 

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I will briefly discuss sights for the flintlock. I am a huge fan of the peep sight, but on both of my flintlocks, I have open sights. The Lyman Plains Rifle has an adjustable buckhorn rear/blade front sights, and the pistol has standard fixed notch/blade type sights. I use these guns for hunting and have found that open sights do much better for low light (seems like the majority of my shots are at dusk) than peep sight, it’s that simple, but your mileage may vary.

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One of the best things to have on a rifle of this type is a set trigger. Shooting at 50 to 100 meters with the standard trigger is do-able, but using the set trigger makes that offhand shot (when you have the time) a lot more accurate, and what’s not to love about accuracy. I recommend that if the rifle you are looking at getting is available with a set trigger, it is a “no brainer”. The last thing I will say about something that you need in a flintlock rifle is a subdued finish. If you look at the rifle above, you will notice that it blends in. This is one of the reason I’m a big fan of Lyman products.

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This is a Pedersoli Kentucky Flintlock in .50 caliber. The patch knife is home made from a file, deer antler and fake sinew.

Anything a pistol can do, a rifle can do better except for two things, be concealable, or in this case, be convenient to carry. Is this pistol a deer killer? No, this one is not, at least not yet anyway, but I have a friend that has taken deer with his (all he hunts with are pistols). it is relatively accurate up to 50 meters (off a good rest, hits minute of deer vitals), and has the most comfortable grip ever designed.

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“Possibles Bag” Left to Right: Tin cup, flint and steel fire starter (bottom), .50 cal ball mould, 25x monocular, Tin has extra flints, and an extra rifle frizzen. Deer antler with extra fake sinew thread and needle, magnifying glass, scissors, patch knife (bottom), ball starter, and large fixed blade knife.

Next, let’s talk about accessories. What do you need for your flintlock firearm? I use to be into re-enacting, and going to “Rendezvous”, so I have more than what is absolutely necessary of the “Old style” gear. You will need something to carry your roundballs and patches, something to carry your black powder, and something to carry maintenance equipment.

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Belt pouch has another flint and steel fire starter (redundancy), pre cut rifle patches, and a round ball holder.

For the roundballs and patches, my old style kit has them in a belt pouch so the are on you even if your “possibles” bag isn’t. For the black powder, my old style kit uses a powder horn with horn measure (remember, I use FFFg powder for the pan and the barrel).

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Last but not least is the powder horn with matching powder measure. The coyote pelt is actually a hat from my “rendezvous” days.

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The powder measure is just dremeled out till it hold the quantity of powder you need for a load.

When I talk about maintenance equipment, there are a number of thing you will need. Tools for taking your firearm apart (either a multi-tool, or something specific for the task). You will need a cleaning jag, a patch puller and a ball puller. Most ram rods will have a threaded end to accept these accessories, and if they don’t, get a military cleaning rod, and a 10/32 adapter. You will need a pick for your flash hole I have an old style one, but I usually use a big safety pin, and I can just pin it in the bag.

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When it comes to modern era kit, this is it. A military surplus canvas buttpack with shoulder strap for the “Possibles” bag, and an East German 4 mag AK pouch for my belt pouch.

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I keep my accessory kit handy in case i have a bad charge and have to pull a bullet. The powder flask with measure is behind that. and the balls (and percussion caps if using an In-Line) are in the left side pouches.

For my modern blackpowder kit (whether In-Line or Flintlock), I use a US surplus buttpack for the “Possibles” bag. The advantage to this instead of the old version gas mask bag I showed in this post is the buttpack will conveniently carry a poncho underneath for easy access in inclement weather. The leather “Old style” belt pouch is replaced with a East German surplus 4 AK mag pouch. This pouch has four inside divided compartments to hold different things, and keep them separate.

I replace the powder horn with a brass powder flask which has a powder measure attached to the end that is sized to my load. My accessories kit is kept in a US surplus cleaning kit pouch, and I have the adapters to use the cleaning and maintenance equipment with a GI issue cleaning rod.

There are some things you need to square away regarding your blackpowder guns. First, you need to practice a lot to get the steps down pat, so when you need to perform them, it is second nature. This site shows the basics of loading your flintlock. Second, know your firearm’s specs and understand it. Here is the Lyman guide for using blackpowder guns. Third, PRACTICE!

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Some disadvantages to blackpowder firearms. First, they let everyone know exactly where you are due to a huge smoke cloud. Second, due to that smoke cloud, it makes it hard to see after you’ve fired. Third, they are slow to reload (especially if you haven’t practiced!). Fourth, THEY ARE UNFORGIVING IF YOU DO NOT CLEAN THEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Blackpowder is hygroscopic, and will bugger up your barrel in no time if you don’t clean it. You should already be fastidious in cleaning weapons and tools. Blackpowder guns require that in spades.

These are just my thoughts on the use of the blackpowder flintlock firearms system in a SHTF scenario. There are a number of good resources out there to get you on you way in that hobby, and if you’ll note, I didn’t give you my load data. That’s for a reason.  Blackpowder guns are picky, and what works in mine won’t necessarily work in yours. Do you research, and have fun. It’s a cool hobby to get into. This guy has some good advice on using flintlocks, that will get you on you way. Hell, even Ex-Felons can own one of these because it’s not considered a firearm, and is legal for them to own.

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By the way, the rifle at the beginning of the post was a 1795 Springfield. Anyone know the significance of that rifle to an Infantryman?

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.