Saturday, June 09, 2007



Mousegun example: Kel-Tec P-32 .32 ACP semi-automatic pistol, blued finish
Mousegun example: Kel-Tec P-32 .32 ACP semi-automatic pistol, blued finish

A mousegun is most often considered a category of small revolver, or semi-automatic handgun intended for self defense; typically such small pistols are of .32 caliber or less. The term "mouse gun" is a joke referring to the small caliber being capable of only bringing down animals the size of mice.[citation needed] The term is used to describe a class of small handguns.




Among mousegun users, the term mousegun itself is not usually considered to be pejorative.

It should be mentioned that those who favor larger, heavier handguns (not necessarily of larger caliber) do often use the term mousegun for any small caliber firearm in a disparaging way, generally for guns they see as intended for use in a military or self defense role where power should be considered more important.

Among those who prefer larger, heavier guns, the term mousegun is sometimes applied to junk guns, especially those in .22 Long Rifle or .25 ACP.

Among those who prefer larger, heavier guns, it is noteworthy to realize that .22 caliber pistols (and even rifles) that are intended for target shooting, plinking, or small game hunting are not considered mouseguns. In this usage, there is widespread agreement, even among those who favor the use of mouseguns for use in deeply-concealed carry; full-size handguns and rifles, despite firing small caliber bullets, are not mouseguns.

Pistol mouseguns

In order to create such small pistols, engineering compromises need to be made, and many mouseguns lack features such as slide stops and external safeties, and few function quite as reliably as refined, full-size designs such as the M1911. The small size and mass of the pistol, and low energy of the cartridge, also can make functioning of semi-automatic versions less reliable. With the short sight radius, and low-profile, snag-resistant iron sights, which are required for meeting the needs for a deeply-concealed handgun, these guns are also difficult to shoot accurately over longer distances.

Still, for the intended self-defense application, over distances of only 3-7 yards (3-7 m), they can serve admirably. Despite the marginal power, many people carry mouseguns for defense, on the theory that a weak pistol you carry is far better than a powerful gun you don't. A mousegun is often the gun carried when one is carrying a deeply-concealed handgun, or it is the gun carried when one is ostensibly, by all appearances, not carrying. Additionally, the engineering required to build such a small handgun is admired by many, and there are thus many people who enjoy collecting and shooting mouseguns.

Examples of such mouseguns include the Seecamp, the NAA Guardian and Mini Revolvers (such as the Black Widow), the Kel-Tec P-32 (.32 caliber) and P3-AT (.380 caliber), and the Beretta Bobcat (.22 or .25 caliber), Jetfire (.25 caliber), and Tomcat (.32 caliber). Slightly larger 9 mm mouseguns, still under 16 ounces (450 g) in weight, and very small in size, include the Kel-Tec P11 and PF-9, the Smith and Wesson PC 945 Micro, Kahr PM9, and the Rohrbaugh R9. The Rohrbaugh R9 is currently the smallest 9 mm pistol on the market, replacing the Kel-Tec P11 which formerly held that distinction (although this may be debatable with the introduction of the Kel-Tec PF-9; some clarification is required). All of these mouseguns conceal especially well. Mousegun-pistols using .45 exist too; examples include the Para-Ordnance p6.45 and p10.45. When firing these weapons, one should however expect quite a kick due to their high power/weight ratio.

In general, law enforcement mouseguns users typically choose guns in either 380 ACP or 9mm, depending on the rules set by each department for backup guns; often, the requirement is that the backup gun has to be in the same caliber as the main service pistol for ammunition compatibility.

Revolver mouseguns

Revolver mouseguns exist, too. Examples include the North American Arms Mini Revolver, which is a spur trigger design with birdshead grips. The North American Arms Mini Revolver is styled very much like popular pocket revolvers of the 19th Century, but is made entirely of stainless steel.

Historical perspective

Particularly small and high-quality examples, such as the Seecamp LWS 32 .32 ACP pistol, formerly commanded prices significantly higher than its US$600 retail. During the mid 1990s, demand so far exceeded supply that contracts for guns were sold up to two years before the guns themselves were produced, and the guns themselves were then often selling for as much as US$1000 when they actually arrived, if re-sold.

Since roughly 1995, however, there has been considerable erosion in these high mousegun prices, no doubt a result of Kel-Tec starting to produce a 9 mm mousegun, the P11, then a .32 ACP P-32, and then a P3-AT (.380 ACP), all of which were priced at roughly half the price of the Seecamp 32, while packaged in much the same size.

See also

External links

General information

The design of the ammunition is determined by its purpose; anti-personnel ammunition is often designed to break up or tumble inside the target, in order to maximize the damage done. Anti-personnel shells contain shrapnel and are designed to explode in mid-air, so its fragments will spread over a large area. Armor-piercing ammunition tends to be hard, sharp, and narrow, often with lubrication. Incendiary projectiles include a material such as white phosphorus which burns fiercely. Tracer ammunition emits light as it travels, allowing the gunner to see the path of bullets in flight while using a machine gun.

Popular types of military rifle and machine-gun ammunition include the 5.45 mm, 5.56 mm, and 7.62 mm. Main battle tanks use KE-penetrators to combat other MBTs and armoured fighting vehicles, and HE-Frag (High Explosive-Fragmentation) for soft targets such as infantry.

Ammunition, particularly that of small arms, is specified by an extremely wide range of designations derived from metric and English measurements, commercial firms' private systems, and the different requirements of armies of different countries. German firms in the late twentieth century have decided to make "all-metric" ammunition, a refinement of existing designs.

Match-grade ammunition is of exceptional quality and consistency, intended for target-shooting competition.

The components of ammunition intended for rifles and munitions may be divided into these categories:


Historical (circa World War I)

These general conditions apply to the storage of ammunition in fortresses. Here the positions for the magazine and ammunition stores are so chosen as to afford the best means of protection from an enemy's fire. Huge earth parapets cover these buildings, which are further strengthened, where possible, by traverses protecting the entrances. For the purpose of filling, emptying, and examining cannon cartridges and shell, a laboratory is generally provided at some distance from the magazine. The various stores for explosives are classified into those under magazine conditions (such as magazines, laboratories, and cartridge stores) and those with which these restrictions need not be observed (such as ammunition and shell stores). The interior walls of a magazine are lined, and the floors laid so that there may be no exposed iron or steel. At the entrance, there is a lobby or barrier, inside which persons about to enter the magazine change their clothes for a special suit, and their boots for a pair made without nails. In an ammunition or shell store these precautions need not be taken except where the shell store and the adjacent cartridge store have a common entrance; persons entering may do so in their ordinary clothes. A large work may have a main magazine and several subsidiary magazines, from which the stock of cartridges is renewed in the cartridge stores attached to each group of guns or in the expense cartridge stores and cartridge recesses. The same applies to main ammunition stores which supply the shell stores, expense stores, and recesses.

The supply of ammunition are either for guns forming the movable armament or for guns placed in permanent positions. The movable armament will consist of guns and howitzers of small and medium caliber, and it is necessary to arrange suitable expense cartridge stores and shell stores close to the available positions. They can generally be constructed to form part of the permanent work in the projected face of traverses or other strong formations, and should be arranged for a twenty-four hour supply of ammunition. These stores are refilled from the main magazine every night under cover of darkness. Light railways join the various positions. The guns mounted in permanent emplacements are divided into groups of two or three guns each, and usually each group will require but one calibre of ammunition. A cartridge store, shell store and a general store, all well ventilated, are arranged for the especial service of such a group of guns. In the cartridge store the cylinders containing the cartridges are so placed and labeled that the required charge, whether reduced or full, can be immediately selected.

In the shell store the common shell are separated from the armour-piercing or shrapnel. Each nature of projectile is painted in a distinctive manner to render identification easy. The fuzes and tubes are placed in the general store with the tools and accessories belonging to the guns. The gun group is distinguished by some letter and the guns of the group by numerals; thus A/1 is number one gun of group A. The magazine and shell stores are also indicated by the group letter, and so that mistakes, even by those unaccustomed to the fort, may be avoided, the passages are pointed out by finger posts and direction boards. For the immediate service of each gun, a few cartridges and projectiles are stored in small receptacles (called cartridge and shell recesses respectively) built in the parapet as near the gun position as practicable. In some cases, a limited number of projectiles may be placed close underneath the parapet if this is conveniently situated near the breech of the gun and not exposed to hostile fire.

In order to supply the ammunition sufficiently rapidly for the efficient service of modern guns, hydraulic, electric, or hand-power, hoists are employed to raise the cartridges and shell from the cartridge store and shell store to the gun floor, whence they are transferred to a derrick or loading tray attached to the mounting for loading the gun.

Projectiles for BL guns above 6 inch (152 mm) calibre are stored in shell stores ready filled and fuzed standing on their bases, except shrapnel and high-explosive shell, which are fuzed only when about to be used. Smaller sizes of shells are laid on their sides in layers, each layer pointing in the opposite direction to the one below to prevent injury to the driving bands. Cartridges are stored in brass corrugated cases or in zinc cylinders. The corrugated cases are stacked in layers in the magazine with the mouth of the case towards a passage between the stacks, so that it can be opened and the cartridges removed and transferred to a leather case when required for transport to the gun. Cylinders are stacked, when possible, vertically one above the other. The charges are sent to the gun in these cylinders, and provision is made for the rapid removal of the empty cylinders.

The number and nature of rounds allotted to any fortress depends on questions of policy and location, the degrees of resistance the nature of the works and personnel could reasonably be expected to give, and finally on the nature of the armament. That is to say, for guns of large calibre three hundred to four hundred rounds per gun might be sufficient, while for light QF guns it might amount to one thousand or more rounds per gun.

Modern era

Modern ammunition includes not only shells for tube artillery and mortars, but increasingly aircraft-delivered bombs, smart bombs, rockets and other explosive-bearing projectiles. The destructive power and lethality of these systems is difficult to appreciate. A single cluster bomb, deliverable by any of the above systems, can sow grenade-sized bomblets across a 100 yard (90 m) football-sized field in sufficient density to kill any persons present, even in trenches and wearing body armor.

See ammo dump for discussion of modern ammunition storage facilities.

Supply of ammunition in the field

With every successive improvement in military arms there has necessarily been a corresponding modification in the method of supplying ammunition and in the quantity required to be supplied. When hand-to-hand weapons were the principal implements of battle, there was no such need. But in the Middle Ages, the archers and crossbowmen had to replenish the shafts and bolts expended in action, and during a siege, stone bullets of great size, as well as heavy arrows, were freely used. The missiles of those days were however interchangeable, and at the battle of Towton (1461), part of the War of the Roses, the commander of the Yorkist archers induced the enemy to fire arrows in order to obtain them for firing back. This interchangeability of war material was even possible for many centuries after the invention of firearms. At the battle of Liegnitz (1760) a general officer was specially commissioned by Frederick the Great to pack up and send away, for Prussian use, all the muskets and ammunition left on the field of battle by the defeated Austrians.

Captured material is utilized whenever possible at the present time. In the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese went so far as to prepare beforehand spare parts for the Chinese guns they expected to capture. Though it is rare to find a modern army trusting to captures for arms and ammunition; almost the only instance of the practice is that of the Chilean Civil War (1891) in which the army of one belligerent was almost totally dependent upon this means of replenishing stores of arms and cartridges. But what was possible with weapons of comparatively rough make is no longer to be thought of in the case of modern arms.

The Lee-Metford bullet of 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) diameter can scarcely be used in a rifle of smaller caliber, and in general the minute accuracy of parts in modern weapons makes interchangeability almost impossible. Further, owing to the rapidity with which, in modern arms, ammunition is expended, and the fact that, as battles are fought at longer ranges than formerly, more shots have to be fired in order to inflict heavy losses, it is necessary that the reserves of ammunition should be as close as possible to the troops who have to use them. This was always the case even with the older firearms, as, owing to the great weight of the ammunition, the soldier could only carry a few rounds. Nevertheless it is only within the past seventy years that there has grown up the elaborate system of ammunition supply which now prevails in all regularly organized armies. That which is described in the present article is the British, as laid down in the official Combined Training (1905) and other manuals. The new system designed for stronger divisions, and others, vary only in details and nomenclature.

Ammunition for infantry

Ammunition for infantry refers to the ammunition carried by a typical foot (infantry) soldier. Someone serving in the infantry generally carries, in pouches, bandoliers, etc., one hundred rounds of small-arms ammunition (S.A.A.), and it is usual to supplement this, when an action is imminent, from the regimental reserve (see below). Like any trade, the proper tools are necessary for the task at hand. Infantry need to be provided with the weapons and ammunition to deal with the expected threat, be it another foot soldier, a mounted warrior, armoured vehicle or aircraft.


Every reduction in the caliber (size) of the rifle's ammunition means an increase in the number of rounds carried. One hundred rounds of the Martini-Henry ammunition weighed 10 pounds 10 ounces (4.8 kg); the same weight gives 155 rounds of 0.303 in (7.7 mm) ammunition and at 0.256 in (6.5 mm) the number of rounds is still greater. The regimental reserves were historically carried in six S.A.A. carts and on eight pack animals. The six carts are distributed, one as reserve to the machine gun, three as reserve to the battalion itself, and two as part of the brigade reserve, which consists therefore of eight carts. The brigade reserve communicates directly with the brigade ammunition columns of the artillery (see below). The eight pack animals follow the eight companies of their battalion. These, with two out of the three battalion carts, endeavour to keep close to the firing line, the remaining cart being with the reserve companies. Men also are employed as carriers, and this duty is so onerous that picked men only are detailed. Gallantry displayed in bringing up ammunition is considered indeed to justify special rewards. The amount of S.A.A. in regimental charge is 100 rounds in the possession of each soldier, 2000 to 2200 on each pack animal, and 16,000 to 17,600 in each of four carts, with, in addition, about 4000 rounds with the machine gun and 16,000 more in the fifth cart.

Current small arms ammunition

Currently, every army of an internationally recognized country (except those who rely on others for defense, such as Andorra, and those that do not have a true army, such as the Vatican City) has adopted assault rifles as the main infantry weapon.

In western (NATO) forces, the 7.62 mm NATO round has been mostly replaced by the lighter 5.56 mm NATO round, which is better suited for automatic fire than the larger round and allows each soldier to carry more ammunition. The larger caliber ammunition is still retained where range and weight of shot is important, e.g. machine guns and sniper rifles.

Other nations, especially forces with former ties to the Soviet Union tend to use rifles related to or developed from the AK-47 with similar sized rounds to the NATO ones. In 7.62x39 mm and 5.45x39 mm for assault rifles and 7.62x54R for sniper rifles and light machine guns.


The tank made horse mounted cavalry obsolete and while an infantryman could deal with a horse-borne enemy new weapons were needed to damage a tank or other vehicle or penetrate and wound the crew. The first anti-tank weapons given to infantry were based on small arms, for example the anti-tank rifle. As even the lighter designs of tank carried more armour the limit of a man-portable rifle that could fire a round with sufficient kinetic energy to penetrate the armour was reached. The introduction of the shaped charge warhead gave the infantry a weapon that used chemical energy rather than kinetic to beat the armour and in a focussed way which made them more effective than large grenades. When propelled by a rocket, the shaped charge gained range as well. Weapons such as the Bazooka or Panzerfaust were never small but they were suitable for infantry use - though they often had to be used at close range where they could be aimed accurately at the vehicles weak points. Post World War 2, the advent of the missile delivered both great range and accuracy and provided infantry with a weapon that could reliably destroy the heaviest tanks at long distances.


Today's infantryman can deploy sophisticated multi-spectral man-portable surface-to-air missiles equipped with the ability to reject decoys and defeat counter-measures. In Somalia it was demonstrated that slow moving/stationary aircraft at low altitudes could be defeated with unguided anti-armour infantry weapons. It is also true that aircraft are relatively delicate machines, filled with highly flammable fuel, and since their first usage in World War I a plane can be brought down by single bullet striking something vital. The main weaknesses of ammunition provided to infantry to deal with aircraft are limited range and small warheads, both due to the necessity that such weapons remain portable by men on foot. The premier SAM for infantry is the FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defence System), provided as an all-up round in a canister it is attached to a launcher unit and is ready to expend. Numerous other missiles in this class exist from different nations of origin. Infantry machine guns and rifles may improve their ability against aircraft by utilising tracer ammunition, to allow the aimer to better gauge the lead aim necessary to strike his target. Weapons developed primarily for anti-tank roles can add proximity fusing to increase the probability of a kill by having the warhead detonate nearby the target without having to make contact.

Large weapon ammunition

See Main article, Shell (projectile), for information on the various types of shell and shot.

Modern artillery ammunition is generally of two types: separate loading and semi-fixed. Semi-fixed ammunition (rounds) appear in the form of a projectile mated with a cartridge case which contains the propellant and they resemble small arms rounds.

The canister is outfitted with a primer on its base which fires upon contact from the firing pin. Gunpowder, precision machined to burn evenly, is contained inside of cloth bags that are numbered. US/NATO 105 mm howitzers use semi-fixed ammunition, containing seven powder bags referred to as increments or charges. Putting the powder in bags allows the howitzer crew to remove the increments when firing at closer targets. The unused increments are disposed of by burning in a powder pit at a safe distance from the guns.

Above a certain size, semi-fixed rounds are impracticable; the weight of the whole assembly is too much to be carried effectively. In this case separate loading ammunition is used: the projectile and propelling charge are supplied and loaded separately. The projectile is rammed home in the chamber, the powder charge(s) are loaded (usually by hand), then the breech is closed and the primer is inserted into the primer holder on the back the breech. Separate loading ammunition is typically used on 155 mm and larger howitzers. Several propellant types are available for 155 mm howitzer.

All normal projectiles arrive at the weapon with a plug in the fuze well on the nose of the projectile. Using a special fuze wrench, the plug is unscrewed and a fuze is screwed in. The decision as to which type of fuze to use is made by the fire direction center and carried out by the gun crew.

The armaments fitted to early tanks were contemporary field or naval artillery pieces and used the same ammunition. When tank versus tank combat became more important, the trend became that anti-aircraft artillery pieces (designed to fire high velocity shells to altitude) were often adapted to tank use where a gun specifically made for the vehicle was not available. As the armour applied to tanks increased, ammunition for tank use paralleled that of anti-tank guns. Current tank gun ammunition is a single fixed round ("shell" and charge combined in a single piece) for quick load, the charge is in a combustible case - so there is no empty cartridge to be removed and stored in the turret and the "shell" is a saboted shot, a shaped charge or sensor fuzed warhead.

Naval ammunition

The ranges at which engagements are conducted by warships are typically much greater than that at which land warfare is observed. The targets are also generally machines, not men. Naval ammunition is therefore optimized for great velocity (to reach those great ranges, to hit aircraft flying at altitude and also with the benefit of reducing the lead that has to be applied to hit a distant moving target) and to disable said machines, rather than rending human flesh. Naval gun ammunition of WWII vintage came in two main varieties, armor piercing shells to attack hardened warships or high explosive incendiary shells (with point detonating fuzes to start fires on ships, or mechanical time fuzes designed to fragment and create clouds of shrapnel to defeat aircraft). With the demise of the armored warship, contemporary naval gun ammunition is solely the high explosive variety, but new fuzing and guidance options are available to increase lethality, especially against high speed missile or aircraft threats.


Common artillery fuses include point detonating, delay, time, and proximity (variable time). Point detonating fuses detonate upon contact with the ground. Delay fuzes are designed to penetrate a short distance before detonating. Time fuzes, as the name implies, detonate a certain time after being fired in order to achieve an air burst above the target. Time fuzes are set to the tenth of a second. Proximity or variable time fuzes contain a simple radio transceiver activated a set time after firing to detonate the projectile when the signal reflected from the ground reaches a certain strength, designed to be 7 meters above the ground. Fuses are armed by the rotation of the projectile imparted by the rifling in the tube, and usually arm after a few hundred rotations.

See also

Wednesday, June 06, 2007



added commentary 6-7-07

Author Paul Williams: Al-Qaida 'Definitely Has Nukes'
Phil Brennan
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

America is facing a nuclear attack from al-Qaida terrorists living in the U.S. or crossing our all but unguarded borders, warns Dr. Paul Williams in his chilling new book "The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World."

Remarkably, just hours after conducted an exclusive interview with the author, U.S. authorities announced the arrest of three terrorists who planned an attack on New York City's JFK airport — which read as if details surrounding the plot had been taken directly from the pages of his book.

Williams, a former FBI consultant and an expert on the subjects of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, also is the author of "Osama's Revenge," "The Next 9/11," and "The al-Qaida Connection." He has long maintained that the menace posed by this sinister group of murderous terrorists is both real and widespread. [Editor's Note: Get Paul Williams' explosive "The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World" FREE — Click Here Now.]

In his interview with NewsMax, Williams discussed al-Qaida's successful efforts to obtain nuclear weapons for use against the United States.

NewsMax: Does al-Qaida have nuclear weapons?

Williams: They definitely have nukes. There's no doubt about it. There's positive proof. As I wrote in my book, in the first three months of Operation Enduring Freedom — the Gulf War — our troops found in a cave outside of Khandahar in Afghanistan a canister filled with Uranium 238 [the basic ingredient for a nuclear bomb] and in Turnak Farms [where at one time 1,800 members of al-Qaida lived and worked] they found jars and jars and jars of yellow cake [pure uranium, dried].

The most alarming thing of all involved a Pakistani operative who was driving over the Allenby Bridge between Jordan and Israel in a shabby Volkswagen mini-bus. The Israelis stopped him and in the back of the Volkswagen was a plutonium implosion device, the most sophisticated of all nuclear weapons. According to the Mossad people I spoke to, it was in excess of 10 kilotons.

It could have taken out all of Israel in the blink of an eye. If one of these babies went off with 10 kilotons, first of all you'd have the conventional explosion, which if it occurred at the site of 9/11, would take out all of lower Manhattan.

From that would come a fireball that would be about 750 feet in diameter — the core would reach a temperature of 10 million degrees Celsius, which means in the blink of an eye everything would disintegrate. After that would come juggernaut blasts ripping through the city with winds in excess of 640 miles per hour, and after that would come the mushroom cloud and the radioactive fallout that would spew into the five boroughs of New York, into Connecticut and New Jersey. The end result is that millions would be dead.

NewsMax: What is the possibility that there is a store of nukes here in the United States?

Williams: There's no doubt about that. Before 9/11 a guy by the name of Sheik Kabbani, the president of the Supreme Islamic Council of North America, appeared before the Senate and the House and said that over 48 nukes were here. There was also a Waziristan summit meeting in Pakistan in April 2004. Attending it were the leading planners of the next 9/11. Included was one Sharif al Masry, and Adnan el-Shukrijumah, the next Mohammad Atta, and a terrorist from Brooklyn.

They all confirmed that nuclear weapons had been developed by al-Qaida with the help of scientists and technicians from the A.Q. Khan Research laboratories. The most chilling thing, they said was that all of the weapons had been forward deployed to Mexico and transported over the border into the U.S.

This story was reported in a little tiny paragraph in Time magazine. It was buried in there. The fact that nuclear weapons had been developed [by al-Qaida], and the researchers at the A.Q. Khan facility had confirmed that, and transported to Mexico and then into the United States — you couldn't get a bigger story than that.

NewsMax: Doesn't this indicate the seriousness of the problem with our borders?

Williams: It's madness. The borders are not just open. People say the "porousness" of our borders but that's not accurate — our borders are wide open.

© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.







Jerrick Linde

If you are like many a shooter you have thought about the hobby of reloading or handloading your own ammunition. Reloading or handloading is the hobby of recycling/manufacturing your own ammo for your firearms. The process basically starts with an empty brass case and involves depriming it/repriming it, adding powder and then a bullet by the use of specialized tools. What tools, you may ask? Is it safe? Why should I do it? These questions have probably crossed your mind if you have been thinking about getting started in this great hobby. In this article I will attempt to provide simple answers to these questions. This article is not intended to be a how to on reloading, or tell you what is the best equipment for reloading, it is just to mainly inform you of what you will need and some possible safety tips.

If you have been around shooting long enough you have probably seen a blown up gun sitting in the gun shop display case with the label "Caused by a Handload". This is an example of the worst that can go wrong in handloading. You are probably thinking to yourself "How can this hobby be safe when that can happen?" Well I won’t lie to you, handloading can be a potentially unsafe hobby. How can you make it a safe hobby? With proper loading practices and taking your time. A majority if not all handloading accidents are caused by not paying attention or not following instructions. Handloading requires patience, 100 percent of your attention, and the ability to follow instructions to the letter. Following those simple tips will insure you a lifetime of safe reloading.

So why should you start reloading? The most obvious reason is cost savings. Take for example shooting a .44 magnum. The cheapest factory plinking ammo I can find in my area starts at around .40 cents a shot. With reloading you can get that down to around .11 cents a shot if you saved all of your brass for reuse. The savings can be even greater if you are buying premium ammo. The second reason is you will have the ability to create custom ammo for each gun or low recoil ammo to condition yourself to the recoil of the magnums. Handloading also gives you the option of making ammo that is not available from the factory. The third reason is that it is just plain fun and will lead to you being able to shoot more.

By this time you may be ready to take the plunge, but you are wondering what equipment you need. You may be confused by the large amount of available equipment. Well, I am going to attempt to make it easy for you and break the equipment down into 3 categories: Absolutely required, nice to have items, and specialty items. Some of the items on the lists are going to be borderline to which category they go into, meaning that they may or may not be required depending on your setup.

Absolutely required items

As the name says, these items are ones that you cannot reload without. The first and most important item on this list is the press. The press is the backbone of your setup. Presses come in many different styles but basically can be broken down into two categories: progressive and single stage. Single stage presses are ones that only do one operation with each pull of the handle. Their main advantages are:

  • They are capable of reloading nearly every cartridge on the market depending on the size of the press.
  • They are inexpensive to start out with.
  • They have the capability of accepting add on attachments that enable the press to do other reloading tasks besides reload ammo.
  • They are very easy to learn the operation of.
  • They need little to no maintenance.
The main disadvantage a Single Stage press has is that it is slow. The best you may be capable of producing is around 50 rounds of loaded ammo in about an hour.

Where the single stage presses main disadvantage is speed, the progressive presses main advantage is speed. Most progressive presses are easily capable of 150+ rounds an hour. They accomplish this by doing multiple operations on different cartridge cases with each pull of the handle, often creating a finished cartridge with each pull. The main disadvantages of a progressive type press are:

  • Cost: they average 2-3 times the price of a single stage press and sometimes more.
  • Parts can and will wear out requiring replacement on most models.
  • Most if not all models require some type of routine maintenance to operate at peak efficiency.
  • They have a slower learning curve and may seem "finicky" until you learn its operation.

So which type should you choose? That depends on your needs. First off you need to choose a press that is large enough. Larger cartridges will require a larger press of either type to accommodate them. Check with the manufacturer if in doubt about a presses ability to handle the cartridges you want to reload. Second you should consider if the press will see more rifle or pistol reloading. Most people prefer to do rifle cartridges on a single stage press because of the extra care needed with bottle neck rifle cases. The next thing you need to consider is how much you shoot. If you only shoot around 200 rounds a month then a single stage would suit you just fine. More then 200 rounds a month and a progressive press may be the ticket for you. As far as my personal recommendation for starting out I would invest in a single stage due to the fact that they are inexpensive to start with and easy to learn on. Progressive presses are nice, but for learning the process of reloading they have too much going on at any one time. Now there are progressive presses out there that can be used as a single stage for learning on, if you decide you need a progressive press that may be the way to go for you. Keep in mind that most reloaders that own a progressive press also have a single stage press around for one reason or another.

The next piece of required equipment you will need is a set of dies. The dies go into the press and do the actual work on the cartridge case. Dies come as sets that are cartridge specific, but there are sets that may load 2 or more similar cartridges. A .38 special/.357 magnum die set is an example of this. The number of dies that come in a set will usually be 2 for bottleneck cartridges and 3 for straight walled cartridges. In a 2 die set the first die is used to remove the spent primer, resize the case, and expand the throat area for a new bullet. The second die in the set is used for seating a new bullet in the case and crimping it in place. In a two die set you will have to use lube when resizing the case to prevent it from seizing in the die. In a 3 die set the first die is used to resize the case and remove the spent primer. The second die in the set is used to expand the case mouth for a new bullet. The third die in the set is used to seat and crimp a new bullet into place. Three die sets are usually available in steel, carbide and or titanium nitride. The carbide and titanium nitride sets are a little more expensive but have the advantage that they can be used without lube; a steel die set will require lube to be used. It is worth the extra cost to buy a carbide or titanium nitride set when available. Most brands of dies will work in any press, but sometimes you will run into a press that is die-brand specific. This is something to check when purchasing your press

The third required item you will need is a shellholder or shellplate. This is the piece that goes in your press to hold the cartridge case in place. Single stage presses most often use universal shellholders that work in any brand of press. Most progressive presses utilize a shellplate that is unique to the brand and type of press. Shellplates are more expensive then shellholders. Shellplates and shellholders are cartridge specific, but most can be used with multiple different cartridges.

The fourth required item is some type of powder measuring/dispensing device. This can be as simple as a calibrated set of scoops that are used by looking up how much powder each scoop holds on a table to a hopper filled rotary type that is adjustable to throw any charge weight you desire. Depending on the type of measuring/dispensing type you go with you may need to get some more equipment that is described later. If you are using a progressive press it will most likely come with a hopper-type powder measure that is either adjustable for any charge weight or uses removable rotors that throw a fixed charge weight. The hopper-type measures that use removable rotors are used by looking up the charge weight you want to throw and selecting the proper rotor for the measure. The best setup for either press type is a powder measure that is adjustable for any charge weight, but it does require extra equipment that will be mentioned later.

The last item you will need to reload is data. Reloading data is the recipe for the cartridge. It tells what type and how much of each ingredient that you will be using. The best sources are reloading manuals put out by the various bullet manufacturers. Most will contain data for a number of different cartridges, history of the cartridges, and any special tips for the cartridges. The better ones also have sections on how to reload with many good tips. It is a good idea to own multiple reloading manuals if possible. The second best source of data is from the powder manufacturers themselves. Most will provide you with the data for free on their website or through pamphlets available at your local gun shop. The last source of data is from the internet in general. This data may be safe to use in most cases but should always be verified with a reputable source before use. A reputable source is one of the previously mentioned suppliers of data. This is where multiple reload manuals come in handy. As far as using the data some general safety tips are:

  • Follow the data to the letter; do not substitute components at first.
  • Start low and work up, don’t ever start with the max charge listed or exceed the max charge.
  • Some data sources only shows the maximum charge, in this case reduce by 10-15% and work up from there.

That is the list of everything that is absolutely required for you to start reloading equipment wise. The next list is the stuff that is nice to have. Keep in mind though that some of the items listed next may be required items based on your above choices. If this is the case I will state that with the item description.

Nice to have items

These items are items while not necessary to reload with are nice to have around. As stated earlier some of them may be required based on your press type or what you reload. I am going to try and list them in order of importance.

The first item on this list is a scale. A scale is used to check the weight of your powder charge, weight of bullets, and to calibrate your powder measure if it is adjustable. As far as reloading goes you will need a scale intended just for that. The scale you use should be calibrated in grains, which is the standard unit of weight used in the United States for reloading. The scale should be accurate to .1 grain. Keep in mind there are 7000 grains in 1 pound. There are two types of scales in common use today, the balance beam type, and the digital type. Both types are very accurate. The balance beam is far more common and is usually less expensive. Depending on your press type and or powder measure setup a scale may be a required item. If you do not have a scale in your startup kit because it was not required I urge you to pick one up as your next reloading purchase.

The second good to have item is a dial caliper. A dial caliper is used to measure length of such things as case over all length, and bullet sizes. The caliper you use for reloading needs to be accurate to .001 inches. This item is more important to a person that loads for semi-auto handgun rounds due to the fact that the cartridge needs to be kept to an overall length specified in your reloading manual for proper feeding and to insure that the bullet is not seated to deeply. It is also used with other tools later on in this list. Once again every reloader should have a dial caliper as one of their tools.

The third item on the list is a case trimmer. A case trimmer is used to trim your cartridge cases all to the same length as specified by your reloading manual. While not as important to the handgun reloader, trimming your cases becomes a necessary task with most rifle cartridges due to the fact that they can lengthen over repeated reloading and firings. The largest benefit a case trimmer provides to the handgun reloader is that it will uniform up all your cartridge cases to the same length, thus giving you a more consistent crimp and possibly more accurate loads. You will need a dial caliper to use a case trimmer and a deburring tool to smooth up the trimmed area.

A case tumbler/vibrator makes the number 4 position on this list. This piece of equipment takes your brass cases and by means of tumbling or vibrating with some type of media and cleaner polishes and cleans them back up to a like new shine. The main benefit this has for the handloader is that your cases will be clean and free of all contaminants before you reload them. This will help prolong the life of your dies, and prevent them from getting scratched up by dirt. As an added benefit you get nice shiny brass and we all know shiny brass is more accurate than dull brass. Just joking there.

The next item on the list is one that some people may consider not necessary or one that you can live without: a chronograph. What a chronograph does is measure the velocity of the fired bullet. Most models will also keep track of the velocities from a number of rounds fired and then tell you the average velocity, high and low velocity, extreme spread, average deviation and standard deviation. This data is a treasure trove to the reloader because it tells you how consistent your loads are and it gives you a measured number that can be used when working up a load. Most people that own a chronograph say they would not live without one. Price wise they are a fairly inexpensive investment with most models starting at less than $100. This is one investment that I encourage all shooters to own even if they do not reload.

The last item, which is not really an item at all but is nice to have, is a place to reload. Ideally you will have a dedicated space for reloading. In the beginning if you are just using a small single stage press you can bolt it to a sturdy piece of wood and then clamp it to any stable surface and reload. This will give you a very portable unit that will not be in the way when it is not being used. As you progress in your reloading hobby though and acquire larger presses or a progressive press you will need a dedicated area and sturdy bench to mount everything on permanently.

Are these all the nice to have items, short answer no. A few other inexpensive items that are nice to have depending on if you need them or not are:

  • Primer flip tray. Used to position primers all up or down for ease of loading into primer feed tubes.
  • Loading blocks. These blocks hold your cartridge cases in an upright position in a nice organized manner. They can be purchased for fewer than $5 at most gun shops or can be made from a block of wood. This item is not as important to someone that only uses a progressive press, but if you use a single stage I recommend you have one on hand.
  • Bullet puller. This item is used to disassemble loaded rounds back to the component state. This item is handy to have around for any mistakes you may make or anything you are not sure about.

Specialty tools

This section I am going to dedicate to specialty tools used in reloading. Specialty tools are often tools that do a job that one of the tools listed above already does but does it better or more accurately. Most likely you will not need any of these tools, but some of them can be handy to have around. Below is a short list of some of the more commonly available specialty tools:

  • Specialty Dies. These are extra dies you can add onto your existing die sets. Some of the more common ones used are:
    1. Universal decapper die. This die is pretty much a universal one that works with just about any caliber. Its main use is to deprime a cartridge case without sizing it or touching it in any way. Most people use it for removing the primer prior to polishing the cases in a case tumbler or vibrator.
    2. Lube die. This die is available for a number of different cartridges, but one die usually fits a family of cartridges. This die is most often used in a progressive press to lube rifle cases for resizing, eliminating the step of you having to do it by hand each time. If you only use a single stage press there is no added benefit to owning this die.
    3. Factory Crimp die. This item is available from Lee. It is cartridge specific die that is used to provide a factory type crimp and a second sizing of the finished case to make sure it is returned to factory specs. If you are having feeding problems or chambering problems with your reloads this die can be helpful to own.
    4. Small base dies. These dies are usually cartridge specific dies used on semi-auto rifle rounds to size the area of the case just ahead of the rim down to aid in feeding and chambering in semi-auto rifles. If you reload for a semi-auto rifle and are having chambering difficulties with your reloads this die may help you out.
  • Hand priming tool. You do not need this item due to the fact that your press is capable of seating primers, but it can be handy to have. This tool does allow greater control and feel during primer seating. If you use a progressive press this tool will likely be of little use to you. For the single stage reloader this tool can speed up the process of reloading a little depending on your presses priming setup.
  • Powder trickler. This item is for the reloader that likes to weigh every charge for every case for maximum accuracy. It is used to trickle very small amounts of powder onto your scale to achieve the desired weight. This item is not easily used with a progressive press setup.
  • Digital scale/powder dispensing system combo. This combo utilizes a digital scale that is linked to an electronic powder dispenser. It fulfills the same purpose as a scale and powder trickler listed above but automates the process. Most units allow you to punch in the desired powder charge weight and the machine will dispense exactly that amount. These units are expensive and are only really useful to someone looking to achieve maximum accuracy from their reloads. Once again this item is not easily used with a progressive press setup.
  • Primer pocket cleaning tool. This tool is used to clean any buildup out of the primer pocket in your cases after the primer is removed. Most people do not take the time to do this extra step. Of the people that do take the time to do this step most are trying to achieve maximum accuracy from their reloads. The only real need you may have of this tool is if you are consistently getting high primers (a condition where the primer sticks up higher than the head of the cartridge after seating. Primers should be seated flush with the case head for maximum sensitivity and safety. Seating the primer slightly below the case head is ideal). One cause of this is a buildup of junk in the pocket that will need to be removed. This tool is fairly inexpensive if you need it.
Well that should about do it for what you need in reloading tools. Now this is in no way a complete list of tools available to the reloader, but it does include the more commonly encountered items. If you have everything on the required items list you are set to start reloading. The ideal setup for you will most likely be a combination of the above items, but if you stay with the hobby long enough you will most likely get all the items on the nice to have list and maybe a few of the specialty items.

What is the best way to get the above items. Well it depends on your budget. There are a few companies that offer starter kits that will get you a majority of the items on the required list (most kits do not include the dies or a shellholder) and some items on the nice to have list. Most of the starter kits come with a single stage press, but there are a few progressive press starter kits out there. A starter kit is a cost efficient way of starting out. If your budget does not permit the purchase of a starter kit, or the press that is included in the kit will not fit your needs you can easily make your own kit by just purchasing the items on the required list and any that may be needed from the nice to have list. Once you have everything you need you are ready to learn the reloading process.

Unfortunately this article is not about how to reload. Ideally to learn the reloading process it would be best to have someone who reloads guide you in the steps of reloading. Since that is not always possible the next best thing is to have a couple of good reloading manuals around. They will explain in detail the process of reloading and how to set up your dies. Another great source on how to reload is your local gun shop. Some of them run reloading clinics or can tell you when reloading equipment manufacturers may be sponsoring a clinic near you.

I hope this article was of some help to you if you are thinking about becoming a handloader. If you do decide to take the plunge let me be the first to welcome you to a great new hobby.


WND Exclusive
'Syria ready for war'
Officials: Troops at Israeli border, could launch surprise attack

Posted: June 7, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2007

Syrian President Bashar Assad
TEL AVIV – Syria, aided by Iran, has deployed a strengthened army along Israel's northern border and is prepared to launch a surprise war against the Jewish state, according to senior Israeli security officials.

The development comes as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday told the Knesset he is ready for direct negotiations with Syria aimed at an Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory that looks down on Israeli population centers twice used by Damascus to attack the Jewish state.

With Israelis this week commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War – when neighbors Egypt, Jordan and Syria attacked the Jewish state – Israeli security officials told WND Syria has prepared for a confrontation and is capable of launching an immediate war.

The officials say the Syrian army is deployed along the Syrian side of the Golan Heights with strengthened forces after carrying out the past few weeks stepped-up training of troops. The officials noted the open movement of Syrian Scud missiles near the border with Israel and said Syria recently increased production of rockets and acquired missiles capable of hitting central Israeli population centers.

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The Syrian army has improved its fortifications, according to the Israeli security officials, and has received modern, Russian-made anti-tank missiles similar to the ones that devastated Israeli tanks during the last Lebanon war, causing the highest number of Israeli troop casualties during the 34 days of military confrontations. Syria also received from Russia advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

The officials noted Syria stepped up the pace of weapons, including rockets, being shipped from the Syrian border to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Just yesterday, a truckload of weaponry meant for Hezbollah was confiscated by the Lebanese army.

Yossi Baidatz, chief of military intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, said the Syrian-backed Hezbollah is rebuilding its forces in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border in areas where international forces are deployed with the specific charge of preventing the Lebanese militia's rearming.

The security officials said the greatest threat Syria poses to the Jewish state are the country's missiles and rockets. They noted Syria recently test-fired two Scud-D surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of about 250 miles, covering most Israeli territory. The officials said the Syrian missile test was coordinated with Iran and is believed to have been successful. It is not known what type of warhead the missiles had.

In addition to longer-range Scuds, Syria is in possession of shorter-range missiles such as 220 millimeter and 305 millimeter rockets, some of which have been passed on to Hezbollah.

Israel also has information Syria recently acquired and deployed Chinese-made C-802 missiles, which were successfully used against the Israeli navy during Israel's war against the Lebanese Hezbollah militia last July and August. The missiles were passed to Syria by Iran, Israeli security officials told WND.

Israeli security officials said Syria is preparing for a summer war. But they said there was an argument within the Israeli intelligence community whether the military build-up is for an attack or is meant by Syria to pressure Israel into vacating the Golan Heights. Some officials said Syria estimates the U.S. or Israel will attack Iran, and Syria will be drawn into a larger military confrontation by opening up a front against northern Israel. Also, the officials said, Syria may believe Israel will attack first and its preparations are defensive in nature.

The Israeli army is not taking any chances. The Israel Defense Forces Tuesday carried out a mock attack on a "Syrian" village during a major exercise in the Negev. The Israeli soldiers besieged and occupied the village, designed to be similar to towns on the Syrian side of the Golan. Similar war exercises were carried out in Israel the past few months, including a mock attack on Damascus.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has multiple times told his state-run media the past few months Damascus is preparing for war. He warned Israel to evacuate the Golan Heights.

This past weekend, Assad called for "better cooperation" between Damascus and Tehran in "the confrontation with the Zionist regime and the USA," according to a report published Sunday by Iran's official state news agency, IRNA.

Yesterday, an official from Assad's Baath party warned in a WND interview if Israel doesn't vacate the Golan, residents in the strategic territory would launch "resistance operations" against Israeli communities.

Meanwhile, Olmert yesterday told the Israeli Knesset he is willing to hold "peace talks" with Syria without any preconditions. At the same Knesset hearing, Israel's security cabinet decided to establish a ministerial committee to discuss the security threat posed by Syria. The committee, led by Olmert, is made up largely of the same war lawmakers who helped shape Israel's war against Hezbollah last summer. Those lawmakers were slammed in a recent government war probe for multiple failures during the war.

Olmert – faced with devastatingly low poll numbers and calls from the public and senior officials to resign – reportedly directed staffers at Israel's Foreign Ministry to prepare for the possibility of talks with Syria.

Some analysts here have speculated in the Israeli media Olmert's ratings could rise if he reached out to his leftist base and conducted negotiations with the Palestinians or Syria.

According to the Israeli media, Olmert tapped third parties to approach Syria to feel out whether Damascus is seriously interested in negotiations.

Syria, which signed a military alliance with Iran, openly hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. The U.S. accuses Syria of fueling and aiding the insurgency in Iraq. Israel says Syria has been allowing large quantities of weapons to be transported from its borders to Hezbollah. Syria has been widely blamed for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Syria is accused by Israel and pro-Democratic Lebanese politicians of fueling instability in Lebanon the past few weeks by backing Fatah al-Islam, a group claiming connections to al-Qaida that has been battling the Lebanese Army since May 20, killing some 107 people, including 47 soldiers and 60 terrorists.

The clashes erupted just before the U.N. was set to call for the establishment of an international tribunal to try the killers of Hariri. Syria has been widely blamed for the assassination and for a string of subsequent attacks that have rocked Lebanon.