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Thread: Alternatives to the 22LR?

  1. #1

    Alternatives to the 22LR?

    This ammo shortage has got me to thinking, if the 22LR market does not recover (Im sure it will eventually) what would be a good alternative round that does a similar job to the 22LR? I think a centerfire would be best since you could roll your own and not have to worry about relying on the ammo market.

    The first thing that come to my mind is the 25 ACP rifle that our very own Supergenius Redneck built. Cheap on powder and lead and factory ammo is available, just not very inexpensive (around $.25 a round).

    The other two that I can think of do not require a custom rifle and are also more high performance than the 22LR. I thought about the 22 Hornet and the 5.7x28 FN.

    The 5.7 is not very cheap to shoot if you are running factory ammo only, even with the new FMJ stuff from Federal/American Eagle and Fiocchi. Also, the options on firearms is pretty limited. Pretty much the same case for the 22 Hornet.

    Can yall think of any alternatives to the 22 LR?

  2. #2
    Senior Member DanChamberlain's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    A good pellet rifle is very effective for killing and training.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain

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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanChamberlain View Post
    A good pellet rifle is very effective for killing and training.
    Yep, and I use mine a lot. For sight picture, breathing and trigger squeeze practice I use bbs. ammo doesn't get much cheaper than that

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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    You can load reduced loads with cast bullets in the 223 to just about 22 lr ballistics, same with the Hornet and the 218 bee, but those two are harder to find brass for.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    .32 caliber muzzle loader.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BigDanS's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Nothing comes close to the lowly .22LR in price. A center fire primer costs between $0.015 to $0.05 each, while a box of 50 .22 LR SHOULD cost between $0.04 and $0.06 a piece including brass, powder and bullet.

    If you reload 9mm or .38 special with lead you cast yourself and get the cheapest primer possible, this would be the way to go.

    You would have to be really good at sourcing to do this:

    Primer $0.025
    Bullet $ 0.07 if you buy $0.03 if you cast your own lead
    Powder 4.5 grains of Bullseye, at 7000 gr per ld at $25 a can = $25/ (7000/4.5) = $0.016 per round

    Cost per round about $0.071 to $0.11 per round or about $3.55 to $5.50 per 50.

    The alternative would be .38 special

    3.1 grains of Bullseye at $25 a lb would be about $0.012 per round
    $0.08 for a purchased lead bullet or $0.03 cast your own
    $0.025 primer cost

    .012 + .03+ .025 = less than $0.07 per round or $3.50 per 50 rounds cast your own
    .012 + .08+ .025 = less than $0.12 per round or $6.00 per 50 rounds buy lead bullets


    A revolver is easier to load for because you don't have to hunt your brass with similar costs.

    And these are full power loads. You could cheap out the powder and get a poof loads.

    38 spl - 150 bullet - 2.7 bullseye - 665 fps
    Lyman cast bullet handbook, c.1973


    D
    Last edited by BigDanS; 06-27-2013 at 08:33 PM.
    I'm an east block weapons kinda guy... AK's SKS, Makarov's Tokarevs ... and American guns too.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    .22 short

    Ya know with the ammo shortages and especially .22 ammo (of all varieties) I think we may see folks not "Blasting" away so much with semi-autos when they can find .22 ammo to shoot. I mean the days of shooting 1/2 or whole 500 round brick in one afternoon may just be a thing of the past.


    I do see one positive effect of this, that is, marksmanship may get better in general and each fired .22 may be carefully scrutinized/savored. Remember grandpa or you old man shooting just a few shots or six times from a revolver and that's all he should shoot and look at you funny for "Wasting Ammo" because they remembered hard times.

    Plus, folks may buy more "Target" grade rifles that are single-shot or bolt action in .22 to get the most outta their ammo bucks spent.
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    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    If you get lead for free, bullets are....free.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpj View Post
    If you get lead for free, bullets are....free.
    But not "Lead Free"........
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
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  10. #10
    Senior Member BigDanS's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Lead might be freely given, but you have the cost of a pot, dipper, gloves, fuel, bullet mold and lube. Given the issues with lead exposure I might also opt for a filter / mask. Low cost but real cost.

    Lee Electric 10 lb lead pot $80
    Dipper $8
    Electric use 500 watts per hour to melt plus 200 watts per hour to run, about $1.00 per session
    6 cavity bullet mold $60
    Lube - $1.00 per batch ( estimate )

    You need a cooling bucket of water, and a storage box, but for arguments sake lets just call that free.

    Lowest cost after buying the gear is about $2.00 per session and you can yield about 100 to 150 150 grain bullets in three hours time. ( setup , heating, casting, cleanup ) Perhaps I should lower the cost to .01 per bullet for free lead, no equipment cost. The pot, dipper and mold cost about $150. If you cast 10,000 rounds that's $.015 per bullet.

    Cost per bullet at 10,000 cast is about .025 to .03 per bullet.

    Then again there's your freely given labor.

    IMHO

    D
    I'm an east block weapons kinda guy... AK's SKS, Makarov's Tokarevs ... and American guns too.
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings?

  11. #11
    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    If you have a metal lathe, they can be....

  12. #12
    Senior Member sarg1c's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    What's wrong with the .17 cal. still available here at home....

  13. #13
    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDanS View Post
    Lead might be freely given, but you have the cost of a pot, dipper, gloves, fuel, bullet mold and lube. Given the issues with lead exposure I might also opt for a filter / mask. Low cost but real cost.

    Lee Electric 10 lb lead pot $80
    Dipper $8
    Electric use 500 watts per hour to melt plus 200 watts per hour to run, about $1.00 per session
    6 cavity bullet mold $60
    Lube - $1.00 per batch ( estimate )

    You need a cooling bucket of water, and a storage box, but for arguments sake lets just call that free.

    Lowest cost after buying the gear is about $2.00 per session and you can yield about 100 to 150 150 grain bullets in three hours time. ( setup , heating, casting, cleanup ) Perhaps I should lower the cost to .01 per bullet for free lead, no equipment cost. The pot, dipper and mold cost about $150. If you cast 10,000 rounds that's $.015 per bullet.

    Cost per bullet at 10,000 cast is about .025 to .03 per bullet.

    Then again there's your freely given labor.

    IMHO

    D
    You've never casted, and you think too much.

    10 pound bottom pour pots are (were) $60.
    Don't need a dipper.
    Electricity here is ~05 a kilowatt. Much less than a dollar.
    6 cavity lee molds are $40. I use 2 cavity molds at $20.
    I made several batches of Jerrys lube for less than 10 bucks. I'm estimating 10,000 rounds can be loaded with that amount. Seriously.
    I can run a hundred per hour EASILY with a 2 cavity mold. Setup amounts to plugging in the pot. Heating takes 20 minutes.
    With 4570 bullets going for around 30$ per hundred, the mold is bought and paid for with the first casting session. AAMOF, I have paid for every mold I own, and all other assorted casting gear just casting 45-70 bullets.
    Damn. Now you made me do it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member tennmike's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    The .25 ACP rifle is cheap to shoot for sure, and I have a good supply of bullets, and a bullet mold to cast lead ones.
    Next cheapest one to load for I own is the single shot .32 H&R Magnum on a 20 gauge NEF shotgun frame. I shoot it mostly with .32 Long as that is cheap stuff to reload for, and load the .32 Mag. to minimum load data for lead bullets. It's a .308 barrel, so I just size the bullets to .310 diameter and crimp the case to hold the bullet. Casting lead bullets is WAY cheaper than buying if you have some spare time, and bullet lube is easy to make. And loading to minimum velocity levels is easy on the cases. I've got at least 30 loadings from some of my cases with very few that have had to be tossed. Nice thing about the .32 H&R mag cases is that they can easily be trimmed to .32 Long if a case neck gets a split started. I have yet to throw out any of the .25 ACP cases I started with; it just doesn't seem to be hard on cases.

    Lee 2-cavity molds can produce some good bullets cheap 'n' fast. And most any small to medium case capacity cartridge can be loaded cheaply with lead bullets.

    .22 LR is hard to beat for cheap shooting, but if you have primers and cases and a little powder, loading cast lead bullets can sure ease the pains of no ammunition on the shelves.

    I probably paid for my bottom pour mold several times over casting fishing jig heads @ $10/100. I still do that in the winter. You can mold a pile of them in 1/32, 1/16, and 1/8 oz. size in short order. If I paint them, the price is $25/100 as that is a pain in the patootie.

    And if you have a turkey fryer burner, a cast iron pot can be bought to melt the lead for pouring into ingots. And turkey frier propane burners are cheap. You can melt a few tons of lead with a 20 lb. bottle of propane.
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    Senior Member BigDanS's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    I am corrected! I am thinking 0.75 per KWH... in Miami it is $0.11 per KWH and in St. Louis $0.05. I should know better since I used to work for the electric company. It used to be 0.075 per KWH not $0.75

    And yes, I tend to overthink things... ;)

    So if I use your numbers:

    Fixed costs: pot , mold, $80 / 10000 rounds = .008 per

    Variable costs: lube, electricity = .15 / 100 = .0015 per

    About $0.01 per bullet per 10,000 if lead is free.

    .38 special low power load

    .01 bullet, .025 primer. 2.7 gr bullseye 0.01 = $0.045 per light .38 special round or $2.25 per box of 50 .38 special light loads. You did it. Cheap as .22 LR

    D
    I'm an east block weapons kinda guy... AK's SKS, Makarov's Tokarevs ... and American guns too.
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings?

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    Senior Member justin10mm's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    How awesome would it be if you could neck down a .25acp to .22 caliber? It would be like an extremely tiny .357sig. I wonder what the ballistics would be like?

  17. #17
    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    No reason you couldn't. But I'm guessing you would invent some new and improved magical words and phrases while reloading them though.

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    Senior Member justin10mm's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Nothing some RCBS brand tweezers and magnifying glass wouldn't fix.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Chief View Post
    I mean the days of shooting 1/2 or whole 500 round brick in one afternoon may just be a thing of the past.
    Lawdy Lawdy I hope not. That's what got me hooked on shooting. If those days never come back a major source of enjoyment will be gone.
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Casting your own, you could cast .22 bullets and load them in a .22 Hornet case and get by CHEAP, after the initial outlay. I see no reason for it, but it could be done at a velocity of around 1100 fps. It would match the old black powder .22 WCF, the predecessor to the .22 Hornet.

    Never beat the .22 LR, though. There have been cartridges based on the .25 ACP necked down to .22 or smaller. Cartridge Conversions lists one, I'm pretty sure, but it wouldn't be a money saver and require sizing dies and case forming etc.
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpj View Post
    No reason you couldn't. But I'm guessing you would invent some new and improved magical words and phrases while reloading them though.
    (In California surfer accent) Dude! You should load a few of my .17 K Hornet rounds! Gnarly, man!
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarg1c View Post
    What's wrong with the .17 cal. still available here at home....
    Right Sarge, I see lots of 17HMR on the shelves, right next to where the .22 LR USED to be. There is also lots of .22 shorts available.

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    Senior Member Rimfire's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by tennmike View Post
    (In California surfer accent) Dude! .... Gnarly, man!
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    Senior Member tennmike's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rimfire View Post
    Sometimes, I don't even know who you are.
    The following is clue #1:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKpEoRlcHfA

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    Senior Member tennmike's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen. Bob Edwards

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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    There is also lots of .22 shorts available.
    That I find a bit surprising unless they are just too expensive

  27. #27

    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Great responses with a lot of ideas I didnt think of. Pretty much anything rimfire is gone locally, even the rat shot is gone. I didnt even think about a pellet gun or down loading the 22 hornet to 22 mag levels.

    I thought about picking up a 270 Win for squirrels since ammo is available for it but I was afraid that I would pop a squirrel with one and it would just laugh or piss it off.

  28. #28
    Senior Member BigDanS's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Since we were discussing low power .38's using lead, you could just as easily make .224 rounds with lead and charge the case with 5 gr of blue dot, and get about 1200 FPS from a 55 gr bullet at a cost near $0.05 a round. Close enough to a .22 LR. Get a .223 bolt gun and you are in business. Might not work for your AR 15.

    D
    I'm an east block weapons kinda guy... AK's SKS, Makarov's Tokarevs ... and American guns too.
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings?

  29. #29
    Senior Member snake284's Avatar
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDanS View Post
    Lead might be freely given, but you have the cost of a pot, dipper, gloves, fuel, bullet mold and lube. Given the issues with lead exposure I might also opt for a filter / mask. Low cost but real cost.

    Lee Electric 10 lb lead pot $80
    Dipper $8
    Electric use 500 watts per hour to melt plus 200 watts per hour to run, about $1.00 per session
    6 cavity bullet mold $60
    Lube - $1.00 per batch ( estimate )

    You need a cooling bucket of water, and a storage box, but for arguments sake lets just call that free.

    Lowest cost after buying the gear is about $2.00 per session and you can yield about 100 to 150 150 grain bullets in three hours time. ( setup , heating, casting, cleanup ) Perhaps I should lower the cost to .01 per bullet for free lead, no equipment cost. The pot, dipper and mold cost about $150. If you cast 10,000 rounds that's $.015 per bullet.

    Cost per bullet at 10,000 cast is about .025 to .03 per bullet.

    Then again there's your freely given labor.

    IMHO

    D
    I agree Dan, the cost does add up, but it's still better than no ammo. And it is cheaper than what you will pay for ready made centerfire ammo when you can find it during these crunch times.

    I'm just happy that the last time ammo was tight I over bought. I felt stupid for doing it when just a few months later the shelves were again full of ammo, but I didn't shoot it up, and this time I still have 22lr in volume. I'm a little more frugal about my shooting than I used to be, but I still go through several boxes during a range session.
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  30. #30
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    Re: Alternatives to the 22LR?

    I'm a thunkin' that there are quite a few late 19th and early 20th Century handgun rounds which would work well here - at least as a basis for something new. The .32 and .380 auto, and the shorter, rimmed .32 and .38 revolver rounds would be ideal .22LR surrogates:

    Small enough to fit the criteria of small and cheap to load for. Could also be manufactured cheaper and more solid-state like CCI Blazers

    Same general power category. Workable for low noise options and higher power versions.

    Almost large enough to where you wouldn't need tweezers to handload for them, unlike the .25ACP.

    Large enough to where casting bullets would be workable. .22's and .25's are a little problematic in that it's hard to get a mold up to temperature and keep it there with that little lead being poured.

    What I DON'T have sorted out in my head is whether this round should be rimmed or rimless, or if there should be two rounds that are otherwise identical but for this feature. Rimless has obvious advantages for feeding in self-loaders, while headspacing on a rim has advantages in things like revolver function and longer chambers to accommodate magnums, special heavy bullets (a fast twist should be a standard, rectifying one of the .22's versatility drawbacks)
    WWJMBD?

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