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.
Making The “Lightning” For Your Force Multipliers

Making The “Lightning” For Your Force Multipliers

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Charging the large fold up solar unit on top of my pack in the field.

Since the 90’s, I’ve carried a small solar charger for AA batteries in my kit. This was for keeping certain devices I had, like flashlights and PVS-7 NOD’s, operating in the field when there was no chance to get new batteries or charge the rechargeables I had on household 110 system. I started using CR123 batteries in the early 2000’s when I bought an IR laser that used a single 123 battery, and shortly after, I upgraded my weapons light to a two celled, CR123 powered, Surefire.

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The DBAL and Surefire light on this M1A Socom both use CR123 batteries

THE PROBLEM

The use of CR123 batteries put a gap in my preps because, at that time, no one was selling 123 rechargeables. Oh well, guess when they’re done, the IR laser and Surefire is done, right? I made sure I bought a lot of CR123’s for storage. Back in 2013 I found CR123 rechargeables that were made by a company called Tenergy, and I’ve been using them ever since. The caveat to using Tenergy 123’s is that their charge is a little higher than a normal CR123’s 3.2 Volts and two together will burn out a standard Surefire bulb immediately upon hitting the switch (ask me how I know…). No problem, I also ordered some programmable bulbs for my lights and I was back in business.

Last year I decided to get with the times and see if I could come up with alternative charging means to recharge not only my AA’s and CR123’s, but also my 9 Volt batteries for my laser range finder and heat (game) detector. My FLIR 24 which has an internal battery and recharges via micro USB also needed a way to get a boost in the field.

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The total kit that was tested. Total weight was 3.25 lbs.

THE BATTERIES

The system I’ve put together has been in use for approximately 6 months or so. Certain Items like the Tenergy 123 battery box I bought back in 2013 is no longer available, but I’ve found a worthy replacement. I have used a couple different companies’ products, and for the most part, they are about equal in quality and capability.

For the AA batteries, I usually use Eneloop AA’s along with their battery box ($27). I have also used AA battery HSTEK products ($25) with no issues. For the CR123 batteries I’ve been using Tenergy products, but as I already mentioned, that product is no longer available, so I bought batteries and charger box from Power 2000 ($20) and it has performed well. As to the 9 Volt system, I’ve had pretty good luck with the Keenstone charger and 9 Volt batteries ( $25)

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Keenstone 9 Volt charger box on left, HSTEK AA charger box with Eneloop batteries in the Center, and Power 2000 CR123 charger box with Tenergy batteries on the right. The 5V to 12V adapter is on the bottom.

Because the CR123 charger from Tenergy and Power 2000 both come with a 12 Volt and 110AC plugs, I bought a 5 Volt to 12 Volt converter ($10) for the 12V plug. I did this instead of finding a dedicated USB CR123 charger because I figured there might be a need for the ability to charge a dedicated 12V item besides that of my CR123 batteries (example, my “tablet”).

THE POWER

Now, on to the power sources. Although my old units were all solar powered, I decided I’d check into more than just sun charged devices. I found a small, hand held unit that was crank powered and figured it might be a good option if there was no sun available. The other two units I found were both solar. One was small and similar in size to an android phone and had one solar panel. The other one was larger, heavier, and it had four fold out panels.

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Digital multi-meter used for the tests.

To test the chargers I bought a small, digital multi-meter ($18). The process went like this. First, I fully charged the charger/power source being tested before connecting the multi-meter and discharging a specific number of mAh from the charger/power source. Next, I either cranked the crank charger for a given amount of time, or put the solar chargers in the sun (varied levels of sunlight that I documented) for a given amount of time. Lastly, after the time allotted, I then hooked up the multi-meter again and measured the number of mAh it took to completely recharge it while attached to house current.

As an example, the large solar charger shown below was fully charged up, then a measured discharge of 400mAh was completed. At that time, I put the charger out in the sun for 2 hours. Once the time was up, I then recharged the large solar charger from house current while measuring the required amount of mAh required to fully recharge the internal battery.

The small solar unit weighs in at 8 oz. and measures 5.5″x 3″x 6.7″ and cost me $25. it has two “Out” ports, and one “In” charging port. It has a small programmable flashlight built in and the internal battery holds 8,000mAh of power. In perspective, when I have recharged a pair of “dead” AA batteries they’ve taken approximately 1800 mAh to fully recharge. From testing using the small voltage meter shown, the solar panel recharges at a rate of 25 mAh an hour in partly sunny conditions. It’s not a lot, but considering it’s size, I wasn’t expecting much.

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Large 25,000 mAh solar charger-left, 5,000 mAh crank charger-top, Small 8,000 mAh solar charger-right.

The large solar unit weighs in at 20 oz.  and measures 6.1″x 3.3″x 1.37″ in size and costs $38. It has two “Out” ports and one “In” charging port. It also has a built in flashlight, and the internal battery holds 25.000 mAh of power. I found that on a partly cloudy day this unit will recharge at a rate of 40 mAh an hour. It’s better than the small solar unit, but it’s not 4 times (4 panels) better. The advantage is it does recharge faster and it holds a lot of juice.

The final charging unit I tested was a small hand crank model. It weighs in at 8 oz., measures 3.75″ x 1.5″ x 2″ and costs about $30. It has one “Out” port and one “In” charging port. Like the other two, it has a built in flashlight. The internal battery hold 5,000 mAh of juice. 30 minutes of cranking will add 25 mAh of power to the internal battery. An hour of cranking this model will produce more power than either of the other chargers, and it doesn’t require the sun to do it.

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Crank charger with AA battery box, 123 battery, 12V adapter and USB cable on left. Small solar charger with the same accessories included on the right.

To give you some comparative size, I can fit either the small hand crank charger or the small solar unit in a quart sized ziplock freezer bag, along with the battery boxes (and their batteries) for AA and 123 and the required cables. The large solar charger fits in a quart sized freezer bag with the 9 Volt battery box and and three 9 Volt batteries.

I usually carry either the crank charger (majority of the time) or the small solar charger with accessories (in the ziplock) in the buttpack of my load bearing equipment. Whichever one I’m not carrying in my LBE, I’m carrying in my ruck with the large solar charger and the 9 Volt battery box and batteries.

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Large solar charger with 9 Volt box and three extra batteries.

All told I have 38,000 mAh of juice to recharge whatever electronics I’m using, whether it’s a laser range finder (9V), my FLIR (USB), my PVS-7’s/ flashlights (AA’s) or the DBAL IR laser/ Surefire weapons lights (CR123’s).They can all be charged by chargers that can be replenished via the sun or a manual powered hand crank.

If you think, “Man, that’s a lot of expense or extra crap.” Fine, it’s a modular system, and you can pick and choose what makes the most sense for your needs and pocket book. Most of these items needing power are considered “Force Multipliers” to those who know how to use them. Give yourself the edge by not being reliant on a never ending need for fresh, disposable batteries in your gear.Anyone who has done combat operations will tell you that batteries was a huge logistics issue in the field. After it all goes to Hell, having this self reliant ability could make all the difference.

JCD

“Parata Vivere”- Live Prepared.