Thursday, June 18, 2009

Primers = Bottleneck

I've been writing about the crisis in reloading component availability, recently, about as much as I've written about any other subject.

The reason for this is: I may not like the politics of President O, and I may easily find fault in the Socialistic Cultural trend of The Brits, but the single most immediate problem facing Competitive Shooters today is the increasing inability to expect reloading components to be readily available.

Prices have risen during the past 18 months, faster than any period in my 25-year (+) participation in Practical Shooting competition. And those of us who spend much of our "disposable income" and often some income which would ordinarily be expended on "essentials", are usually willing to pay a fair market price ... or even an exorbitant market price ... just to ensure our attendance at the next match.

Unfortunately, reloading components are not now readily available at any price.

I suspect that I am not atypical in having sufficient bullets, cases and powder to maintain a basic stock of loaded ammunition. Sure, I would have to cut back to two instead of three matches a month, but that's bearable.

The availability of most components (again: powder, bullets & brass) is fairly generous. Lots of alternative sources, and while the cost & availability of brass for 10mm and .38 super is perhaps not as varied as for 9mm, .45acp and even the forty short-and-wimpy, at least that reloading component is usable. That is to say, you can spend some time after shooting a stage and pick up many of the expended cartridge cases.

You can use a wide variety of bullet weights, designs and dimensions; there must be at least a dozen different powders by as many manufacturers who provide a gunpowder which is at least marginally usable ... if not optimal ... for whatever caliber you or I choose to reload.

But primers seem to be another situation entirely.

How hard can it be?

I can load .38 super with ANY small primer, although I would prefer the small rifle primer because it is said to be less likely to puncture and/or leak under high pressures.

And I can use either rifle or pistol Large Primers for .45acp and 10mm.

What's the problem?

NSH: Not Stocked Here.

Why are primers so hard to find for pistols & rifles, when we still see shotgun primers almost everywhere we look?

It may be because there are not as many people competing for the available stores. True, Military and Police purchasers need to build some stock of shotgun ammunition, but certainly less than, say, two percent. (Yes, I needed to bend over to grab this statistic out ofr thin air.)

Pistol ammunition is more commonly expended in military and LEO arms, as is rifle ammunition. They are more extensively reloaded by civilian users, too. Consequently, the proportional supply of primers for shotguns is less burdoned by demand.

The results we are all well aware is that primers which will fit in pistol or rifle cartridges are in much greater damand than shotgun reloading components, including primers.

Is this due to "hoarding"? Perhaps. Michael Bane links to a commentary which seems to summarize the reason why the demand far outpaces the supply in his recent article "Primer Shortages To Continue".

To summarize:
  1. primers are needed to fill an increasing need for LEO, Military and public ammunition;
  2. the increased demand of loaded ammunition is evinced also by private citizens who reacted to shortage of components, and the fewer primers are perceived as being available, the higher the demand.
This is exacerbated by the concerns that the Obama Administration will eventually impose draconian controls on the availability of ammunition, and reloading components, in a Liberal attempt to restrict the effective availability of firearms to private citizens.

Realistic? Maybe not, you say. So far, however, even if this is not part of the Obama agenda, it seems to be working out that way.

The Gun Grabbers policy has ever been:
  • Nobody ever NEEDS a gun;
  • Even if you do NEED a gun, you don't need more than one;
  • And if you NEED a gun, for hunting or even [gasp!] for self defense, how much ammunition would you need? Surely one, perhaps two, cartridges should be sufficient to either get your deer or save your ass.
Well, they may not publically put it so baldly, but read between the lines and that is the best interpretation you can put on what they say.

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