Handloader|October - November 2021
Terry Wieland

More than half a century ago, a sergeant named Al Gravelle, a veteran of Korea and the survivalist larceny of the peacetime army, advised the guys in our unit, “If you’re gonna go, go big!” This is not exactly the kind of wisdom he was supposed to impart to his recruits, who were all in their teens and likely to misinterpret it. As I remember, it had to do with looting the quartermaster’s stores. But over the years, I’ve found it to be remarkably useful advice.

On a related note, a colleague of mine from another magazine, writing about – of all things – fly tying, recently advised his readers that not only was traditional, low-tech lacquer the very best cement for binding the thread wrap, but customers could buy a gallon of it and 20 years later it would be just as clear and golden and viscous as the day it was opened. In other words, go big.

The same applies to many things shooters use. Buying in bulk is more expensive, but it saves money in the long run. You make fewer trips to the store, and shoppers don’t run the risk of looking for some tried and true material only to find it’s no longer available or outlawed on dubious environmental grounds.

When I was 16, a family friend undertook to teach me how to handload, and I spent many hours on the second floor of his twostory house. From the outside, no one had any idea what was in there, but it contained his collection of Thompson submachine guns, a few Schmeissers, and a tripod-mounted, water-cooled Colt machine gun. Beside his loading bench was a five-gallon pail of surplus 4831.

“Best rifle powder you can find,” he told me, dipping out a cup-full for me to measure charges from. “I’ll never run out.”

Another friend did the same thing with a 20-pound keg of Bullseye. He bought it in the 1960s and was still loading .38 Specials from it 40 years later.

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