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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”!
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).
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.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.