With the prices of guns and parts rising, and the availability of parts and ammo shrinking, you might be wondering how you can enjoy the shooting sports without breaking the bank.
It can be tough, especially with the price hikes we’ve seen on ammo over the past three years.
But it can also be done. Here are a few ways those of you with an AR or an AR-style platform can “have your cake and eat it, too,” as they say.
Buy 223 Bulk Ammo
First things first, if your AR is chambered in 5.56×45 NATO or .223 Remington (which probably qualifies a lot of you) buy 5.56 or 223 bulk ammo at every chance you can.
Forget the boxes of 20 cartridges, unless you’re only using them for a very specific purpose like long-range competition or hunting.
When it comes to range therapy, shoot the cheap stuff. Those 20-round boxes will have you paying 50 cents or more every time you pull the trigger, with some costing nearly a dollar a round.
Saddle yourself with a good supplier of 5.56 and 223 bulk ammo (Bucking Horse Outpost is a good choice, by the way) and reap the discount.
Learn How to Reload
Most quality brass-cased 5.56 and .223 ammo is reloadable, with most premium ammo manufacturers claiming reloadability up to 7 times.
If you can get powder, primer and bullets (which you may be able to buy in bulk, also cheap) then you may be able to save a little money at the range.
Another technique is to shoot steel-cased ammo, such as TulAmmo, as it is cheap to begin with. Just be aware that it can’t be reloaded.
Make Your Own Targets
You can’t shoot an AR without ammo. You can shoot an AR without a pre-fab target. Make your own out of paper (as long as it’s permitted on your range). This alone will save you a good deal, even though it won’t save you on ammo.
Get a .22LR Conversion Kit
Alright, so this one’s a bit of a catch-22 (no pun intended?) but there are .22 conversion kits you can buy for some sporting rifles, like the AR-15.
Some conversion kits are drop-in modifications, others require a dedicated upper to replace your existing upper (which isn’t that hard to do).
And they can be a bit pricey – but, if you do make the conversion, you can shoot .22 when you’re plinking instead of 5.56 NATO or .223 ammo, and .22LR is way cheaper than centerfire ammo, no matter how you slice it.
So, after a while, the cost you’ll save buying .22LR instead of 5.56 or .223 ammo will pay for the cost of conversion.
Shoot at Free Ranges
If you can, find a local range maintained by your State Department of Fish and Game/Wildlife/Natural Resources. Most states operate them, and the ranges are usually free to use so long as you have a current hunting license.
Just make sure you’re aware of all applicable rules and regulations before going.
Get a Speedloader
Last but not least, if you do shoot at a range that requires you to rent a lane or pay for time, get a speed loader. It’s way easier to shoot through an AR mag (no matter the capacity) than it is to load it.
Get a speedloader, that will make sure you spend more time shooting and less time loading, and it will preserve your mags’ feed lips.