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Old 03-31-2012, 08:31 PM   #1
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Freedom Munitions

I am considering a large purchase of ammo in the next month or two. I already buy fairly regularly when I am passing by local retailers. However with it being election year and prices increasing more and more, I'm looking at ordering from an outfit called http://www.freedommunitions.com/. They are based in Idaho, and the cost of shipping to me is pretty agreeable.

Biggest reason that I'm posting is to see what others might know about them, I'm also looking to buy in bulk, so any other reputable, low cost providers of 38 Special, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .233 (5.56NATO), and .308 (7.62NATO) are of interest to me. I try not to spend more than $0.50 a round, and with their lower costs for training ammo, versus some still reasonably priced match grade, it averages out pretty well to me.

Thanks in advance for any contributions to this discussion.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:43 PM   #2
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Interesting place - I've not tried them. When I buy ammo (not that often) I generally look for deals at midwayusa.com, or gun shows (where I can inspect it for quality at least somewhat) or cheaper than dirt. Midway would be my first choice - they are good people over there, very into quality and customer service.

Always buy a test sample before going bulk - saving yourself getting one bulk order of nearly unusable crap is worth it. And it's out there. I recently got 1k rounds of .223 (for the brass, but I figured on shooting it first) and boy, I just could not shoot it. They remanufactured mil stuff, didn't resize the necks, bullets all loose, all different lengths, about 2 shots per jam. Not worth the wear on a rifle. But then what? How do you throw away 1k rounds? It's a pita.

Things to look out for -
Russian vendors - crap gunpowder and corrosive primers, even these days. Don't get steel "brass", it has issues. Avoid berdan priming, which renders the brass un reusable. Even if you don't reload, someone wants your fired brass, count on it.

Mil surplus. Some's great stuff, but nearly all is steel jacketed and will wear out barrels very quickly, at least by my standards. The military doesn't care that much; if you manage to cook a barrel in anger, they'll give you a new gun, grateful for your soldiering - and living through it. I have a collet bullet puller, so I'll sometimes buy mil surplus and just replace the bullets with something better. Good way to get good brass cheap.

Look out especially for mil surplus from more or less the spanish speakers and turk-whatthefuck-istan kinds of places. Don't buy it. Stuff from the balkans and the north in general, on the other hand, is outstanding. S&B in particular. Best brass for .223 I've ever found - and that's compared to custom brass that costs more than S&B rounds for just the brass alone, including the pricey stuff from Yurp.

Of course, any true capitalist will want to own the means of production. If you're going to buy a press - get a Dillon, there's nothing out there as good at any price, and their lifetime guarantee has been known to go past the life of the original buyer.
I've got an RL-550b, it's the most versatile one for the money, and a bunch of tool heads that let me switch rounds in a couple minutes, all pre adjusted.

Some people think that doing each step by hand in a non progressive press must be better. I've conclusively proved otherwise and have the trophies to prove it - most all loaded on the Dillon.

That's what I do, and now ammo is really cheap, even if I use premium bullets for super accuracy. I can make special purpose stuff all day if I want. Cost:
2.5 cents -primer. 20 cents for premium bullet, less than a nickel for cheap ones, or I cast them myself for handguns and some rifle loads from lead recovered and re alloyed from my range. Powder...depends on the round.
A .38 uses 2.8 gr of Bullseye which is about $25 a pound (7000 grains) - one cent.
.223 uses some 24 or so gr (748 or Varget or various others) - so maybe more like 10c. .308 maybe 42 gr of powder - Varget.

Brass if you don't overdo the loads, lasts around 20 times for .38/.40/.45, less for high pressure loads like .223 or .308 - maybe 5 or ten for those. For the hanguns, the point of wear out is when the primer pockets get worn from so many times pushing them in and out. With rifle brass (depends on a number of things) it's stretching from reforming and you have to watch for that (after a few required trimmings, it's time for the trashcan or metal recycler).

But the feeling of knowing I can just make more anytime - priceless. There's one other huge advantage - your stuff is better than factory. Not because they don't know how to make good ammo - they know. But they have to make it minimum dimensions so it fits in *anything* out there, and often at lower performance because someone might put it in an older gun that can't take high pressures. You don't have this limitation - you can make it to fit your guns precisely. That super loose rattle fit of factory ammo might make it "reliable" but believe me - it's not the path to accuracy at all. If they leave crooked, they fly crooked, and mils matter.

I shoot a lot, so it paid for itself fairly quickly - even though I got a lot of other tools, gizmos, and accessories. It's a rare year I don't put a few thousand downrange in practice and competition. I laugh at the .22 lr conversions for "cheap" shooting, as often quality .22 costs more than the stuff I make here. And it's not really good to practice with something different than you actually shoot - particularly handguns which rise in recoil differently - before the bullet is gone - depending on the load. If you get used to a .22 conversion in a handgun, you're going to shoot way too high with the real thing for awhile - and that might be very dangerous in a fight. You want to build habits you can count on when there's extreme stress.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:06 AM   #3
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The only thing I've reloaded was shotgun shells as a kid for a little spending change from my dad off his 4 step progressive press. Biggest thing I would be afraid of is making a poor calculation and blowing my face off. Overly cautious? Like with anything concerning a rifle/weapon, respect must be given at all times to safety. As long as I didn't get creative with hot loading and maintained attention to detail, reloading would be relatively easy to pick up?
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:03 AM   #4
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I think about reloading from time to time, and like DCFusor, I also throw several K rounds down the range eveery year. In addition to medium caliber stuff, I also burn through four or five thousand .22lr as well.

Reloading is for those with lots of patience, those who have the ability to measure carefully and those with time on their hands. I only have two of those qualities, so for now anyway, I will continue to practice with milsurp, saving the TAP for the last mag, and keeping it separate from my practice "junk" and within reach at the homestead.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:30 AM   #5
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ammoseek.com is a nifty price comparison engine.

I've ordered ammo from Cheaper Than Dirt (fast delivery because their warehouse is in Texas) and Palmetto State Armory with good results. I would recommend either one if their price was competitive.
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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PMBug,
The last orders of ammo I bought at Cheaper Than Dirt were 1,000 round cases of .223 in steel case. Although the ammo is good quality, only one of my AR-15's will fire and extract the stuff. My carbine hates it, but my 22" barrelled rifle eats it up. My point is that when ordering milsurp, you may want to get a small lot, like 100 rounds, to see if your rig will eat it or not. I am certain that the failure to properly eject has to do with my rig because it is milled to 5.56 and uses a BCM bolt carrier and extractor.

I find that when I use Lake City or some other brand of brass milsurp ammo, instead of the plain steel case, I get better performance.

I think it is the coating on the casing that is the problem, because I can shoot Wolf and Brown Bear steel case just fine in the carbine, just not the silver cased stuff.

Sportsmansguide.com is another good ammo dealer BTW. I joined a buyers club thing and get 10% off whatever pricing they advertise, even if it's already on sale.
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:58 PM   #7
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Obviously, you're never tried a good Dillon. While I also have "everything else", once a Dillon is set up - which does take patience, but only once - there is no more measuring at all. I'll make a little movie next time I run it and demonstrate that.
Put in a shell, put in a bullet, pull handle, one complete round pops out. Repeat.

Last weekend I sat down and produced about 600 rounds of .45 ACP - in 3 hours, with plenty of time to drink some beer on long breaks - that was going slow. Once the tool-head and powder measure etc are set up, you never touch that stuff again unless it's for different type of load - you just swap toolheads in and out - takes about a minute - not much patience is required. What IS required is a good feel on the handle, to detect "crashed" brass, something "hinky" like a crooked bullet placement, or a primer failing to seat.

With two people, you can really go fast - my wife loved to help because it makes a cha-ching sound like a cash register when you pull the handle. One pull, one round, it's pretty fast. Every stroke, I'd put in a new brass, she'd put in a bullet in the seating station, pull the handle, one more round, repeat. For her, it wasn't shooting unless she shot at least 200 rounds a session (handguns), so it was good she liked to help.

Doug's recipe for safe, accurate, reliable ammo has a lot to do with powder selection. The goal is to get around 90% case capacity (in rifles) for burn uniformity, by choosing a powder that's right at that load level for that round. Secondary - pick one that burns clean so you don't crud up your gun and action as much. I use magnum primers for ball powder, and regular match for stick for best ballistic uniformity. CCI generally there (they make primers for all the other brands except Federal).

When you're loading near full capacity - you can't accidentally double charge a shell - the overflow alerts you instantly. You have to pay more attention to light loads in big handgun brass - for .38 I check every powder throw with a mirror mounted on the machine. .38 was originally a black powder round, which is why there's so much excess case capacity with smokeless.

So, for handguns (with exceptions of course) in descending order of speed:
Bullseye, Unique, 2400. The last is for .357 mag and really heavy bullets and isn't the cleanest. Unique is so clean you get white patches after firing. Bullseye is most accurate for midrange loads, real clean, uses the least powder, and is best for snubbies.

90% of what I load uses bullseye unless I want a little extra power or am using an extra heavy bullet. Less blast, flash, dirt, wear - and more accurate - it's a winner.
I'd probably use Unique for .40 if I loaded that. I do use it with heavy bullets in .45.
Works pretty good in 9mm too, which I load for a neighbor who has one that actually shoots well - a Smith M&P. No other nine that's been to my range has been a good gun, frankly. I've watched people shoot at a 30 gal water tank from ten paces with nines and empty a clip at it - and miss 9 or 10 times. What's the point of having a ton of bullets if they all miss? It's the first hit that wins a fight.

For .223
IMR4198 for hot loads and light bullets. Norma 200 - about the same. Rarely use this except for specialty demo loads (like when I shoot at dynamite and super high velocity is better) and 40gr or less bullets.

Win 748 (ball) for midrange bullets and loads. Clean, reliable - use magnum primer.
Varget for heavy bullets (60 gr and up). The cleanest burn you can buy.

For .308 - Varget, 168 gr or heavier Sierra bullets.

All you really have to do when setting up a Dillon is get the charge right, just throw a few and weigh them and adjust, and the overall length right - same deal. I make a dummy round with seated bullet and keep it around to set up the bullet seater with.

Use Richard Lee's loading data at first - it's nice and conservative and safe. If you like to have more than one source, Sierra's data is at the other extreme. Get Lee's book. While it of course promotes his products heavily - some of them are actually good, the trick is knowing which ones. If you go single stage for the patience test, his stuff is ok and will save much money. His dies, used as he says to, are among the best for single stage work - especially that collet neck sizer. His "perfect" powder meter is good too - actually better than a $200 benchrest one I have. Most of the rest, avoid it like the plague.

For the Dillon, I just use their dies. When I was trying to win long range benchrest, I bought dies from absolutely everyone to try them all and find out what was best. I think I wound up with an RCBS micrometer bullet seater, but the rest are the stock Dillon - their bullet seater is fine, just doesn't have the handy calibrated knob on it.

For semiautos - ammo straightness is the key to accuracy, since they have to be a kind of loose fit in the gun - you can't use the chamber/throat to force things straight.

I own a couple of runout measuring devices. Yeah, you can straighten bent ammo with them too, but that's not really that good, and not what you use one for. You use it to setup your machine and technique right so they come out straight in the first place.

This is where milsurp really fails the worst, other than fouling and wear. The stuff is crooked, by a few mils usually. In every .223 I have (AR's and a Cooper bolt), my realoads shoot 1/4 moa. If I do nothing but put in even the very best milsurp, the groups go to 3 moa - that's pretty huge. It's the difference between being able to hole the loop in the B of budweiser - every time - or missing the can entirely, at 100 yds.

For a gun whose main use is long range - .308, don't fool around, just get federal or black hills match, moly if you can get that. Or make your own, unless you can get NATO sniper rounds, not likely - never seen them on the market. You don't shoot many rounds as a sniper, or get many long range chances in any case. Short range, use the .223. Hornady bullets tend to be on the small side of the spec, and only shoot well in tight barrel guns. Sierra is the one for accuracy, Nosler of various sorts for downrange damage (expensive, but you're getting a lotta meat for that money).

No nato mil is steel, nickel or anything but brass. I've seen Wolf reliably shut down a Thompson in one clip from fouling alone. I've seen plenty of failures to extract/eject with that crap. It's worth less than zero to me as it ruins guns and fails you when most needed. If you see nato with a crosshair in a circle headstamp - that's what to get if you're going to get surplus, it meets the later interoperability standards at least.

Milsurp can ruin a barrel in under 1k rounds with steel jackets, at least for accurate shooting. I get more like 10k rounds out of a barrel with reloads/moly.
Even though I can rebarrel anything pretty cheap (usually) - it's an issue for me.

What I found is that shooting stuff I know isn't that accurate encourages half-assism.
When you can blame your crappy shooting on the gear, you never get better at it.
It's not firepower that counts - it's hits.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:27 AM   #8
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Just wanted to say thanks to all for the input on this subject. I plan on being adventurous and learning to reload, but I can't say if it will be immediate. I will say that the info has been and will be invaluable, DCF. Thanks. I will reference this post and the sources you mentioned when it comes time to execute reloading plan Alpha.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:05 PM   #9
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I checked out DC's equipment at their site and found it to be quite interesting. I too wish to reload, but I'm still on the fence a little bit.
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Old 04-14-2012, 02:44 PM   #10
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I just ordered a few thousand rounds from these guys after I saw this thread. Box was on my porch yesterday. No issues.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:35 AM   #11
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Cool, Dali. If you feel like critiquing the accuracy of the ammo, give us a range report if you remember to. Thanks
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Old 04-15-2012, 03:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KMS View Post:
Cool, Dali. If you feel like critiquing the accuracy of the ammo, give us a range report if you remember to. Thanks
Not a problem. I'm downrange at the moment and won't be back to the states until mid May. Mrs. Lambone says it was all packaged neatly and the reloads that I ordered were clean. I plan on firing up a good portion of my 556 as I've got a PWS MK 110 just aching to stretch its legs.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:44 PM   #13
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Palmetto is a Great place to do business with.
Reloading is really easy to learn & if you have common sense there should be no problems.
I've reloaded for over 30 years & the $$ saved is enormous.
If you shoot a lot,reloading is the only way to go to stretch your shooting dollar & get the best performance from your firearm.
Dillon is a Fantastic company & their machines are the best.
Hope this helps some of the "Future" reloaders here.
Reloading will be very important in a SHTF scenario.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:47 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
I checked out DC's equipment at their site and found it to be quite interesting. I too wish to reload, but I'm still on the fence a little bit.
I know you can do it Mark,get off the fence.
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:53 PM   #15
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Reloading is great! I equate ammo with PM, so I get a lot of satisfaction out of spending a rainy afternoon in my man-cave loading up a few thousand rounds to put away for possible future needs.

I agree with BigJim, Dillon presses are THE way to go for folks like us. Set it up once, then crank out rounds by the hundreds. Change caliber in a couple of minutes and crank out a few hundred more rounds.

If you are on the fence about reloading, make the investment in equipment and start doing it. I promise you will save a lot of money, feel good about stocking your ammo coffers, and enjoy doing it.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:26 PM   #16
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HC,
It's not about the money and it's not about the space or danger with me, it really is about the time. When I do get some time for me and mine, I need to take care of family business before all else, then I have time for me and my hobbies. I have ten thousand spent .223's, a shitload of 9mm, an equal shitload of 40 and several hundred miscellaneous other types. We go "brass crabbing" whenever we go to the range, but we are obviously not alone.

I would love to reload. It is simply a matter of time.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:31 PM   #17
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Of the Dillons - the square deal B is the one for pistols only. I have an RL-550b with most of the accessories myself, since I do it all, and it's by far the most versatile machine since it *doesn't* auto-index. Auto indexing doesn't save enough effort to compensate how hard it is to stop and back off if there's a mistake, so not having it is better for me, as I often find out in the first couple rounds I've not set something up just so, or crash a brass or something - and then I don't want it to auto move to the next station - I want to pull that round out of there and deal with whatever the trouble is. Having to rotate the platen by hand is no big deal at all. Gives you something to do while your partner is bullet seating at that station.

I also have just about everything else out there - Sinclair, Lee, RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, you name it, I've got it and do use even the cheapo lee presses for fooling around, for example, setting up bullet seating length when creating a new load recipe - they're good enough for that stuff, and the RCBS rocks for pushing cast bullets through a lee sizer which is a lot of work otherwise if you're using a hard alloy. Or using that collet type neck sizer to get ultra straight (low runnout) rounds - you can't put that one in a Dillon. And you need super straight to get an AR under 1/4 MOA, in my experience.

But for just cranking them out - the Dillon is the one - even for hyper accurate 6mm ppc. Get the roller handle, strong mount, bullet tray etc. I have proved, and have match-win records to show for it, that it makes ammo just as accurate as anything else, and it's a heck of a lot quicker and easier when more is better. I only use the other stuff when I'm doing something off the wall in low quantities, to see what works, and it's a little easier when you can have a few presses already set up for that.

Having said that, my lashup is pretty extreme for someone just trying to save some dough - it's for a hardcore tweaker in a case where money really isn't the object, but winning matches is. It just happens to also save some dough when the volume of shooting is really high, as it is here. When you shoot 3-4000 rounds a year, it saves money pretty nicely, even though that was never the point for me.

Not having to show my face or credit card buying that much ammo is part of my opsec, after all.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:41 PM   #18
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Ancona, I understand that fully. I'm at the age where my kids are in college and grad school, and my wife is kind of tired of my come-ons. I find I have a lot more freedom these days, and that works well for these kinds of interests. Relish the family time now but understand that, like $5 silver and virgin brides, it won't last forever.

Just my two cents worth......
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:48 PM   #19
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+100 hca...........+100
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:11 PM   #20
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"Not having to show my face or credit card buying that much ammo is part of my opsec, after all."

Wise move, DCFusor! Wise move.
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