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What common calibres are in the UK?
3 April 2015, 11:55,
What common calibres are in the UK?
I've just posted an article on reloading in the UK on the main site.

I'm looking to understand what is your opinion of the calibres I'm likely to come across after an event. What are the most popular calibres in the UK or what do you have on your FAC?

I'll start with what is on my FAC;
.223 Rem
.243 Win

I also have a 12G and am currently looking at purchasing a 410 in shotgun calibres.
Skean Dhude
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. - Charles Darwin
3 April 2015, 12:09,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
I think .22lr & 12g mate.

12g for all the farmers/rural workers & .22lr for the target shooters. Just based on my personal experiences at my shooting club & also the village where I grew up.
3 April 2015, 13:38,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
I read your article and it is good for your situation.

As a prepper one must recognize and address the fact that whether one likes it or not the 12gauge is the king of shotgun calibers. Any other gauge is just an addition to the main survival gun, which should be a 12 gauge.

I did a search and could not find a list of the sales of rifle cartridges in the UK. The manufacturers may put one out but I could not find it. Over here the manufacturers put out lists of their most sold calibers, which helps with this type planning. It has meant that I own a couple of sets of reloading dies I normally would not have, and it also means that I own a couple of guns I would not own, except for that list.

Die sets are cheap insurance and I would suggest that every reloading prepper own at least a set of .308/7.62x51 dies and a bullet mold in .308. That is going to be one of the top 5 rifle calibers in the UK without question. Every gamekeeper on the island has a .308. (as well as every armed military unit having .308/7.62 for use in machine guns) Having the set is no different for a reloader than any prepper having a propane camp stove as back up for their main cooker.

I would suggest that you look into obtaining a universal neck sizer die in 30 caliber. I think Hornady makes one. Mine is 40 years old and was bought from a company now defunct.

This will allow you to reload any .308-.303 caliber cartridge you encounter without needing specific die sets for each individual caliber. At one time they were available in .22/6mm/7mm/308/303.

There is also the possibility of using reloading dies from one caliber to reload another.

Just like reloading .357 with .38 special dies by backing the die out of the press .100", the same thing can be accomplished by using a set of .308 dies to reload 30-06. One can also use a set of 7.62x54 Russian dies to reload the .303 Enfield. Yes it will work, I have done it for years. I have even reloaded 35 Remington rifle cartridges using .38spl pistol reloading dies.

I would also recommend that every reloading "prepper" acquire a bullet mold for casting their own slugs no matter what the caliber, freeing oneself from the ties of production in that area.

Small rifle/large rifle primers are a universal component, some powders overlap many calibers, but the projectiles are quite specific. Having a bullet mold frees you up a little bit. With the mold, small bits of lead and tire weights become good quality projectiles.

Over here we are having a long term shortage of .22lr, and what we can find has become expensive. I have completely abandoned the .22lr cartridge for target, hunting or plinking. I now use reduced power cast bullet reloads in my .223/5.56 rifles for the purposes once filled by the .22lr.

As for the disassembly of loaded rounds??? How would they ever know? After the rounds are broken down into their parts they are just a pile of primers, powder and bullets.

Salvaging components from useless calibers to reload the ones I do have is a serious part of my long term resupply plan. I have several pieces of reloading equipment made just for that purpose.

Always remember that in a true SHTF situation where rule of law has dissolved all these legal restrictions that defy common sense are suspended. Components can and will be interchanged as needed, if you know how. 20 and 16 gauge shells will be broken down for the primers, powder and shot to make 12 gauge loads when they are needed. Primers, powder and slugs from 9mm rounds will be salvaged for your 38/357....
3 April 2015, 14:07,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?

Interesting reply.

I get confused with the different 7.62 types and without the ability to test the rounds I'm loath to assume that I can put different calibres through one die set. I'd rather buy the specific die set now.

.308 is one that I have already identified as one worth having. I know two people now with that calibre.

I'm already looking at moulds. The Lee ones are much cheaper than the others but I've been told they are flaky in use and I can't afford to find out after an event. In the meantime I'll examine my options.

I'll look at a .30 neck sizer.

As far as the disassembly is concerned. It is a law. I was just pointing out how stupid it is over here and I would disassemble something to allow me to load another calibre after an event. The chances are I may get a obscure calibre and need something to load another gun. I've a tool to take them apart already.
Skean Dhude
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. - Charles Darwin
3 April 2015, 14:56,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
.308 / 7.62 and .223 / 5.56 are very popular in the UK, because army surplus ammo is available for plinking and when loaded with expanding heads both calibres are deer-legal. .22LR is surely the most popular firearm calibre, and being so easy and cheap to shoot many people are allowed to keep hundreds of rounds.

Component numbers are not restricted, but a dealer is required to inform the authorities if someone seems to be buying an excessive amount - it's all a bit vague - components are also stupidly expensive here.

Given the limited size of game in most areas I think a 22LR and 12g would be most useful, improvised slug 12g would deal with the occasional deer / cow / bull.
3 April 2015, 19:42,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
.177 and .22 pellets even if you only have one of these calibres there just so cheap it would be madness to not have a stock of both then as has already been said 9mm .223 and .308 all in common use by military and police aswell as recreational shooters then I would say .38 spl as the police and most large animal vets still have and use these and finally good old 12g and .22lr ubiquitous in countryside pursuits and living.
Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool!!!!
3 April 2015, 19:50,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
Shotgun powders of the type normally used for 12-ga. target and light field loads, typically 32 grams of shot at 350 m/s, are very suitable for pistol and revolver calibers, such as the .32 S&W Long, .38 Special or .45 ACP, or light small game loads in in center-fire calibers, such as the 5.56, 7.62x39, .303, 7.62 NATO, .30'06, 8mm, etc. When using the fast shotgun powders loads must be kept mild, and great caution is required to determine the proper charge and to visually inspect every case with a small penlight to ensure correct powder fill, to avoid any accidental double- or spilled charges.

The key in such loading in a SHTF situation is to be frugal, and to select a charge which reliably gets the bullet out of the barrel, with good ballistic uniformity, but in which an inadvertent double charge WILL NOT BLOW UP THE GUN!!!!

My boyhood mentors developed such loading techniques in the US during the Depression years of the 1930s, continuing in their use through the War years, in which sporting ammunition was simply unavailable and you had to "make do." Years later when visiting in Italy, my hosts indicated that this had been common practice among peasant farmers since the days of Garibaldi!

Using the common 12-ga. powder charge, as the baseline, being that powder was salvaged from misfired or swollen shotgun cartridges or swollen booster cartridges from Stokes 60mm or 81mm mortar rounds which had gotten wet...

A typical 12-ga. charge in old fashioned paper shells with fiber wads was 1.5 grams of a powder similar to US Red Dot, Green Dot, 700X. In modern plastic shells with plastic wads, a more typical charge is 1.2-1.3 grams. Not that you would have any to salvage, but my Italian friends tell me that the US 60mm mortar the WW2 booster shell typically contained 2g of slower, double-based powder, which worked wonderfully! [called Infallible] which is similar in burning rate to modern shotshell powders Unique, PB, or WSF.

The Italians have determined charges by empirical testing, using a chronograph and LONG string tied to the trigger, and offer the following guidelines for the next generation of Contadini Partizans:

Small game charges using cast bullets of wheelweight metal of standard weight for the caliber:

In 5.56, .38 Special and .45 ACP use 1/5 of the 12-ga. load,
In the 7.62x39, .45 Colt or .44 Magnum use 1/4 of the 12-ga. load,
In the .303, 7.62 NATO, 8mm, 7.62x54R Russian and .30-'06 1/2 of the 12-ga. load.

To reload for their common 11mm black powder cartridge rifles, the centre of the fired Berdan primer cup is drilled through the firing pin indent entirely solid web of the case using a 94 Gage (.18mm) drill. Then the hole in the primer cup is enlarged with a 6 gage (5.2mm) drill, taking care to not remove metal in the web of the case, other than to remove any residuals remaining of the Berdan primer "anvil" formed in the case head.

If you drill too far, take the 6 gage drill entirely through the web of the case, and the cases may still be reloaded with black powder, using 209 size shotshell primers, after lightly chamfering the edges of the hold with a 10mm drill bit. They then reload the brass with cast lead bullets lubricated with tallow and use a smokeless powder igniter equal to the .38 Special or .45 ACP charge, to reduce fouling, then fill the case the rest of the way with black powder. Brass cases fired with black powder are dropped into a jar with a 50-50 of white vinegar and water as they are fired. Upon arrival home the fired cases are decapped with an icepick, then washed again in hot water with a mild detergent, then again in clean water and left to dry.

73 de KE4SKY
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
3 April 2015, 22:08,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
And do remember that in GB you have the benefit of having all your firearms proofed during production. Every firearm has been tested and proven to stay intact when fired using a cartridge overloaded from the MAX standard by 30% and in some cases even more.

When you are using a shotgun that is rated for 3" magnum loads and you are following load data that is for 2 3/4 light field shells a slip up is still way inside the safety margins of your shotgun.

Much of the "book data" produced today is also very conservative due to liability issues. I have some old Speer and Seria books from the 1950-60 era that list loads for center fire rifle that are 20% over max loads in today's data publications.

Even in the more recent publications the data varies between publishers. My Lyman and Hornady books show max load for a 115gn 9mmL bullet with a 20% difference in charge of the exact same powder. Even then the truth is that they are both well under the military load in the same caliber.

I own one rifle that offers the same receiver chambered for every cartridge between .223 and .338 Lupea magnum. Should I really be losing sleep over a slight overload in .223?

The chances of one blowing their firearm up are somewhere between slim and none if you are using good sense and loading conservatively in a survival situation. Most reloaders are aware of their risks and taking the necessary precautions with each pull of the reloading lever. It is the guys with the automated units pumping 600 rounds per hour that I worry about!

I have been shooting for a lifetime and reloading for 50 years and I have only seen one firearm blown up while firing a reload. It was a Star Starlite BKS, a 9mmL built on a .380 frame. The feed ramp on the barrel required undercutting for the longer cartridge to fit and left about half the 9mmL brass case unsupported in the chamber. Every case fired in this gun ballooned on the bottom until one case finally gave up and totaled the pistol.

I have found .22 rimfire ammo incredibly tough over the years. I have used old worn out .22 rifles that allowed the cases to swell, have examined guns with chambers that left part of the case exposed during firing and have fired .22 rounds through many things that were not intended to be guns.

If you are old enough to remember the old fashioned telescoping car radio antennas that were made from brass be aware that a .22 shell is a perfect fit in the largest of the tube sections, and 1/8" iron water pipe holds one perfectly too as well as 1/4" stainless steel automobile brake line. (just reference information that hopefully is never needed in that world of suspended legalities.)

Yes I have fired .22 rim fire through all those things, and lived to tell the tale.

And our component shortages over here have forced me to use many powders I never knew were available just a few years ago. I have been forced to experiment and improvise, using proprietary shotgun powders for reloading pistol and light rifle rounds, comparing burn rates and tracing charge volumes for comparing unknown powders to ones I am familiar with. Doing estimations and comparing pressure signs on fired cases has always been a standard action for me and I have spent the money for a chronograph which I never expected to own just a few years ago.

In a survival situation would I break down a 20 gauge shell, transfer the primer/powder/shot to a 12 gauge hull using newspaper for wadding and use it to feed my family or defend them???

In a single heartbeat I would!

Would I break down a .308 shell to rebuild one for my 30-06 or a .303 shell for my .308?

Yes, in the same instant.

Even with all this info floating around in my head I will probably never pursue reloading the Berdan primers. I keep standard boxer cases just to avoid that, however I do have a great deal of Russian military steel case ammo using that system.

Yes, I will save the cases. If you flatten them with a hammer, leaving the case mouth open, you can trim them with tin snips and make fantastic broad-heads from them! They fit a 5/16 arrow shaft very well.
3 April 2015, 23:18,
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
It's nice to think of cartridge guns, but let's not forget about muzzle loaders. A muzzle loader made with modern techniques can be effective, ammunition is easily made using old tech.

If you look around, suitable components are everywhere, for example the steel hydraulic pipes clipped to JCB arms or tractors, tough chrome-moly steel bar in a socket set or a car drive shaft etc. etc..

A crude muzzle loader will put meat on the table if an air rifle isn't up to the job.
4 April 2015, 16:47, (This post was last modified: 4 April 2015, 16:53 by Midnitemo.)
RE: What common calibres are in the UK?
A good indicator of how common a calibre is among sports shooters is to go on guntrader and do a calibre specific search.....approx. 4000 bolt action rifles for sale , in excess off 350 .223/5.56 and the same or just a little less for .308/7.62x51 around 18% of bolt actions is likely to be one of these calibre's that's nearly one in five , not massively scientific but a good indicator nevertheless

I just did the actual numbers 3366 bolt action rifles for sale at 16.50 hrs 4/4/15 of which 703 were either .223/5.56 or .308/7.62x51 more than twenty percent
Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool!!!!

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