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WILTZ: Why is buying ammo for .22 rifles and pistols difficult?

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By ROGER WILTZ

The Daily Republic 

There’s a gun shop in Olathe, Kan., near the home of our oldest daughter that carries a marvelous inventory of vintage arms. While perusing the inventory one afternoon, the owner, Mike, asked if I was looking for something in particular. I didn’t remember the old adage, “Be careful what you ask for.”

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I told Mike that I was looking for a Model 99 Savage. It had to be in excellent condition. It also had to be a “take-down” model, and I preferred .300 Savage for the caliber. Mike told me he had something I’d like to see, and he disappeared into the back room. When he came out, he was carrying the most beautiful Savage 99 I had ever seen. It met all of my criteria. I have a passion for quality U.S. arms of the early 20th Century, and I was smitten. Price haggling lasted a short minute.

This wasn’t my first love at first sight experience in Olathe. Last year, I asked to inspect a Colt “Army Special” double-action revolver. The caliber was .41 Long Colt and that didn’t deter me in the slightest. Being it was a handgun, I couldn’t walk out of the store with it, so The Gun Shop sent it to Yankton’s Dakota Archery, a federal firearms dealer, which turned the gun over to me.

Some pleasant, if not challenging problems, were about to begin when I discovered that no one was manufacturing ammo in .41 LC anymore. Internet dealers of vintage ammunition had .41 LC ammo, but it was too expensive to be burning up in target practice. I turned to Precision Reloading in Mitchell. They sold me a Lee bullet mold for far less than a box of .41 caliber bullets would cost. They also special ordered a set of Redding reloading dies and a bag of .41 Long Colt brass. An old reloading manual listed recipes for .41 LC, and I’d soon be in business.

Because of my tremor, pouring cast lead bullets is borderline impossible for me. Thanks to Don, a great Mitchell buddy, “we” spent a pleasant afternoon casting .41 slugs in his garage. Shooting that historic Colt has become an enjoyable reality.

I hand load all of my ammo. I enjoy it immensely, and it makes it possible for me to shoot all of my cartridge firearms, vintage and modern, for a nominal cost. The vintage calibers I load include .22 Hornet, .25-20 Winchester, .300 Savage, .30-30 Winchester, .30-40 Krag, .32-20 Winchester, .33 Winchester, .35 Remington, .351 Winchester SL, .41 Long Colt and .45-70 Gov’t. If you are considering loading your own, I’d be happy to sit down with you and share ideas.

It’s too bad that such an enjoyable pastime is blemished by the violence in our country. Observing the movie previews on TV today leaves no doubt in my mind about a major root of this violence where killing is actually glorified.

Speaking of ammunition, we are still in the midst of an acute ammunition shortage. While recently helping a Mitchell widow dispose of her late husband’s hunting gear, I sold a good deal of old ammo for what I felt was a fair price. Had I doubled the price, that ammo would have sold in an instant.

A recent hunting magazine article addressed the ammunition issue. The story said some of the recently manufactured ammo was going to the military. However, the military wasn’t to blame. Unscrupulous buyers are hoarding the ammo when it appears on the shelves of our merchants. If the store limits the quantity that can be purchased, these same people have friends, even their wives, buy up the ammo. This is especially true of .22 rimfire ammo. The ammo is then resold for three to four times the amount paid for it.

Stores, such as Walmart, can confirm their suspicions about this practice. I don’t know how this practice can be stopped as it probably isn’t illegal.

Is vulgar language becoming OK around the world?

I was channel flipping yesterday afternoon when I stopped at The History Channel’s “Hunting The Outback.” Hunters in Australia’s northern climes were trying to control the deadly saltwater crocs, as well as the feral hogs. Because of my limited hearing ability, I had the TV set for closed caption. The language of these earthy Aussies was colorful to say the least. They could use the “F” word three times in one sentence. Talk about versatile — noun, verb or adjective, it didn’t matter.

I have a zero tolerance for this word. It identifies the user as vulgar, crude and insensitive. When I was high school principal at Wagner, its use, even mumbled, was an automatic out-of-school suspension. I don’t believe a student ever made that mistake twice. In 21 years, the school board never asked me to relent on this issue.

What about these Aussies? What about other places? While hunting moose in Newfoundland, Canada, our guides matched these Aussies word for word. While twice hunting caribou in the Arctic, our guide, Fabian, could make the Aussies sound like Little Bo Peep — even with ladies present. Don’t believe me? Ask Ed Kniffen, Greg McCann, Curt Kaberna, Mike Hall or Doug Koupal — my caribou hunting partners, about Fabian, who was a Newfie. In thinking about hunting guides, I’d also have to add Africa to my list.

So, world over, has the “F” word become a modern synonym used by guides and hunters for describing game animals, antlers, horns, campfires, tents, mountains, rivers and lakes — not to mention the weather? Perhaps it has, but I’m not going to buy into it.

See you next week.

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