What To Do When You Can’t Find Ammo Any More

There is some ammunition that is hard to find and some ammunition that is just not made anymore.  What do you do if you have a perfectly good gun in a caliber no longer made or an old classic gun which has not had ammunition available for it in years?  The answer is you have to make it or pay someone big bucks to have it made for you. 

Winchester came out with the short magnum calibers about 15 years ago.  Some of the calibers worked great and some didn’t.  Some of the calibers were just so stupid that nobody bought them and after a few years they were taken off the market.  All of the super short mags are gone.  The 224WSSM and 244WSSM are gone and if you can find ammunition now – you pay an arm and a leg for it.  Remington tried to compete with Winchester’s 300 WSM caliber by making the 300 Remington Short Ultra Mag.  Well, the Winchester’s sold well but the Remington’s were a failure and they stopped producing the short ultra mags.  There are some older great calibers which are just fun to shoot or hunt with;  calibers like the 32 Winchester or 375 Big Bore Winchester.  How about the 30 or 35 Remington calibers?  Guns made for these calibers are well made, fun to hunt with or just to shoot and all you need is the ammunition.  So what do you do to get the ammunition to shoot these guns with when it is no longer produced?  Well, my suggestion is to get a set of dies, figure out what the parent case is or a modern case that is close and load your own ammunition. 

The 32 Winchester and the 375 Winchester both have the same parent case which is the 30-30 Winchester.  It is simple to take a common 30-30 case and run it through a die to neck up the brass to accept the larger 32 caliber or 375 caliber bullets.  I needed to make some 375 Winchester ammunition for the editor-in-chief of Texas Outdoors Journal, Bill Olson, so for this article, I made some and will show you the steps needed to make 30-30 into 375 Winchester.  In the case of some calibers like 300 Norma Mag or 358 Norma Mag, you start with a 338 Winchester or 7MM Remington Mag case to make it.  You will have to neck it up and trim the neck to make the case then you will be ready to load it.  The 224 WSSM can be made from 244 WSSM or even 270 WSM cases which will take some extra work and trimming to make it, but if there is no ammo available then this is what you have to do.  For a long time, I could not get 7MM STW brass for my wife’s long-range rifle and there was no 8MM Remington Mag brass to make it from.  I did find that with a little work I could use 375 H&H brass.  I had to neck it down in three steps, first down to 338, then down to 30 caliber, and last I resized it in a 7MM STW die and the brass worked great.  When the 300 Black Out first came out you had to do the same thing by using a 22 Fireball case and opening the neck to 30 caliber or take 223 brass and open the neck, trim the case and then you can load the 300 Black Out loads and shoot the gun.

To make the 375 Winchester, first I had to find some good 30-30 brass then clean and check it.  Going from 30 caliber to 375 is too big of a stretch and the brass will split, so I had to soften up the neck of the brass and then stretch it in several steps. To soften the brass, I put the brass in a pan of water with the body of the case in the water and the neck of the brass just above the water line.  By doing this, the water will keep the body of the brass cool so it won’t soften and allows just the neck to heat up and soften.  I used a torch to heat the necks to a red color which softens the brass enough to be stretched for the new caliber.  First, I open the 30 caliber neck to 338 caliber, then I can take it up to 375 caliber in the next step.  Last sizing step is to full-length size the case in the 375 Winchester die, punch out the old primer and find a good load from a reloading book and load the new 375 Big Bore Winchester ammunition. 

Now finding a load was not as easy as I thought.  All the new reloading books do not have loads for the 375 Winchester.  I had to dig out some of my 20-year-old books and I found two manuals that had loads for the 375 Winchester.  Sierra said a 200-grain bullet with 37.5 grains of RL-7 powder was the best load and Hornady said a 220-grain bullet with 35 grains of RL-7 was the best load.  I had Sierra bullets so I loaded 10 rounds using their recommended load and I loaded 10 rounds with 33 grains of RL-7 powder and a 250 grain Swift A-Frame bullet.  Both of these loads should have a velocity over 2000 feet per second out of Bill’s 14” Thompsen Contender.  I will give him both loads to shoot and let me know which one groups the best.

Old calibers like 222 Remington Mag can be made from 204 Ruger brass and the 264 Win Mag can be made from 7mm Rem Mag brass.  Newer calibers like the 260 Rem and the 7mm-08 Rem can be made using 308 Win Brass.  You just have to find a caliber with brass that is close to what you want to make and use a little engineering to get what you need.