Driven DVD & Survival Guide

A couple of weeks ago Infidel Body Armor sent me a copy of their “Driven DVD & Survival Guide” product and I have to say that I was impressed with the product and the information provided.

I’ve read so many survival and prepping type books over the years that I can’t even remember them all because… well let’s be honest, they mostly just repeat what has already been said 500 times before, but the “Driven DVD & Survival Guide” wasn’t like the norm.

They actually put a lot of thought and work into producing a quality produce full of usable info that isn’t found in other survival / prepping type books. Every prepper can find some usable information in this book and DVD set but it will be most useful for those planning to bug out by vehicle.


Quiet Powermate generator

How to “Zombie” Proof Your Driveway Gate

by BCtruck – please subscribe to his YouTube channel

Zombie = the unprepared in prepper speak, we are not talking about the “walking dead” here…

I feel like I have achieved a level of preparedness that affords me the luxury of slowing down, stepping back and carefully analyzing my efforts to date. Though I have discovered several areas that need attention, perimeter security is one that I think, based on world events and economy focused statistics, I should address and improve upon immediately. My entire acreage is fenced in, and while it only serves to keep honest people honest, it’s only 4 feet high and can easily be breached. I plan on adding two feet plus a couple strands of barbed wire, 100 feet at a time. I have 5 acres so that, is going to be a long slow process.

I decided what I would tackle first, was to make my walk through and driveway gates, a little more formidable and uninviting. When I built those gates, I built them much larger, heavier and stronger than they needed to be because, well, I have no self-control.


I realized that all I really needed was a way of preventing, or at least, discouraging people from climbing over my gate. I decided what the gate lacked was a menacing array of zombie impalement spikes!

I found some 1/2 inch threaded rod while walking a scrap yard a while back, looking for metal to build a grill out of. I brought the rod home not really having plans for it, but realizing that someday it would come in handy. That day was today.

I began by cutting the rod into 6-inch lengths, then taking them to the grinder, and grinding sharp points on one end.



When I was finished, I ended up with 38 zombie impalement spikes for the driveway gate, and 8 for the walk through the gate.


I drilled 1/2 inch holes, about 4 1/2 apart across the top of both gates.


I then threaded nuts and washers onto the spikes, put the spikes through the holes I drilled in the gate rails, and tightened them up with nuts and washers on the bottom of the spikes.


Then, I painted the spikes and since I was already out there with brush and paint, I convinced “let’s take a nap” Brad, to put a coat of oil base on the both spikes and the gates.


I think much of this is mental. By that I mean, It makes me feel better knowing that I have a gate that most people would take a look at and know that one, I was serious about keeping people out and two,If I went through the trouble time and expense of adding spikes to the top of my driveway gates, I was probably a little unstable as well. Both are Ok with me.

If you would like to watch the video of this build, you click on this link here

EDC/Concealed Carry Vest – Philosophy and Product Review

by Matt in the Midwest

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest

To begin, ask yourself: Why wear a vest at all? What purpose does it serve? While looking good, extra layer, low bulk, and style are all fair answers, for me, it’s the equivalent to a women’s purse. I’ll admit it. There are times I envy women and their purses. Daily there are many items that are handy to have within easy reach.

Guys don’t have an easy fallback other than our pockets. I don’t like carrying a bag unless I have “enough” stuff to justify it. I usually do one of three things; go light meaning without, fill my pockets of whatever clothing I’m wearing at the time, or wear a vest.

What I like about the vest option is that I can dedicate certain pockets for certain things and (hopefully) know where each item is located at any time. There are times I wear a vest under a jacket as mine is always “loaded.” It hangs on a hook in my closet and contains a notepad, pen, small LED flashlight, pepper spray, handkerchief, and folding knife.

When I grab it, I just add a spare mag to the left outside pocket, keys to the right outside pocket, phone to the left exterior chest pocket, and wallet to the right exterior chest pocket. Good to go. Depending on what I’m doing or where I’m going I might add a water bottle, snack, gloves, or other items. (I usually carry IWB).

Vests are just one solution to carrying multiple items. There are other alternatives, each with their own benefit and drawback. Some options include going without or only the bare minimum, filling your pockets, fanny pack (don’t knock ‘em), sling bag, daypack, or shoulder/messenger bag. Each fits a certain situation and depending on that, I decide what to carry.

An all day trip with the family with a number of stops? A daypack with room for all. A two-hour shopping trip for me? My vest or fill my pockets. Many options, you decide what works for you. This can change day to day, season to season. It’s nice to have options. As a person interested in taking care of myself and my family, having tools and supplies close at hand is important to me.
I have a number of vests that vary in style, warmth, fashion/fitting in, and durability. For outdoor cold weather work, I love my Carhartt as it’s warm and durable. Just need some extra warmth? Any of my fleece vests. Hunting? Maybe a down vest or camo fleece vest with pockets.

But my favorite, go-to, casual EDC vest is the Scott eVest Travel Vest. I have no vested interest in this company. I just like their stuff, particularly this vest.

I own the men’s Travel Vest which can be seen at This company makes a variety of products mostly clothing geared towards travel. But many would fit the needs of EDC well. Their clothes come at a high price but I think in this case you get what you pay for. As I think of this vest, a number of words/phrases come to mind; pockets, zippers, attention to detail, options, choices, and versatile. This vest is loaded with pockets of all shapes, sizes and locations. I admit I don’t use them all and sometimes have trouble finding which pocket something is in. This may be a downside of the vest but only a small one to me. Options are good. It fits well, true to size. I’m 6’ 195 lbs and the large fits me fine. Plenty long to cover my waist and my IWB or OWB holster.

While not designed or marketed as a concealed carry vest, it works for me since it covers my waist and has pockets for those extra items I like to have on hand. There is not a specific pocket for carry use. But there are two pockets, one lower internal and one external chest pocket where I have carried but the weight of the pistol creates too much sag in my mind.

This was with a M&P Shield in a soft holster to conceal its “printing.” I want my pistol where I put it, not where it slides to sit. Might work for a small lightweight pistol but not for one with more weight or size to it. The fabric is thin nylon. This isn’t a criticism of the vest as it’s not designed for conceal carry, just an observation.

There are many other pockets for items large and small. The website has photos and an x ray view of what each pocket it purpose built for. Very good descriptions, better than I can offer so just check out the website. I like that all the pockets have zips so nothing can fall out accidentally.

And while I’ll never use some specifically for their intended use such as the iPad pocket, they do appear to be well designed. Another nice feature is the main side pockets have small magnets sewn in that “shut” the pockets and keep them from billowing open. There are small vents on each side so the vest doesn’t bunch up when you sit. As with many of the individual features, this whole vest is well thought out.

This is not a vest designed for warmth or rough work, but it does provide a layer of nylon that can cut the wind and hold in some core warmth. I don’t wear it for warmth or for hauling wood. I wear it for the pockets and organization it gives me in a garment versus carrying a bag. This vest is well made and I don’t see myself wearing it out.

When I ordered this vest, I actually ordered two different models; the Travel Vest and the QUEST Vest. Both have many features. The difference for me was the weight of the fabric. The QUEST Vest would likely print less visibly and be warmer.

I went with the lighter weight Travel Vest as a personal choice. Both are solid, multi-featured, quality products, and come in various colors. Nice to have options depending on your needs. The cost listed on their website is $135-145. (I think I had a 20% coupon which helped, search the web). While writing this review, I looked at their website and see they have a dedicated concealed carry coat called the Enforcer. Looks like the arms zip off converting it into a vest and it has many of the features of the Travel Vest. Nice product, another option to consider.

Two more vests I would recommend are the 5.11 Tactical Range Vest or 5.11 Covert Vest. The range vest is visibly more tactical with exterior pockets. Thick fabric, durable, many pockets and features. Useful for handgun and AR practice. I’ve used it at the range when a molle vest is not warranted. It would pass as tacti-cool as much as I hate that phrase. Their Covert Vest is even better in my opinion for a EDC vest. It doesn’t scream “tactical,” looks stylish and comfortable, and has specific concealed carry features. Might have bought it instead of the SeV Travel Vest if I had known about it at the time I bought.

There are many other vests out there. Especially with concealed carry becoming more popular and accepted, even traditional clothing companies are designing EDC models. Some vests are designed specifically for concealed carry and offer an internal holster or velcro/straps to attach a holster. Some companies offer ambidextrous or convertible vests. Some are plain-jane, others full featured. A quick search came up with: Rothco, Woolrich, Carhartt, Rivers West, leather biker vests, and travel/safari vests and I’m sure there are many more available.

Good luck and I hope this article was informative and helpful. Stay safe!

Prizes For This Round (Ends April 12, 2016) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  rifle ammo at Lucky Gunner, an Urban Survival Kit a $109 value courtesy of  TEOTWAWKI supplies, a WonderMix Deluxe Kitchen Mixer a $299 value courtesy of Kodiak Health and a LifeStraw Mission Filter a $109 value courtesy of EarthEasy, and a 4″ Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket a $106 value and a WaterBoy Tripod Kit courtesy of Well WaterBoy Products for a total prize value of over $867.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail a $119 value courtesy of Augason and Berkey Light with 2 (9″) Berkey Earth Elements a $157 value courtesy of LPC Survival, for a total prize value of $276.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  International MRE Meals Supply a $72.00 value, a LifeStraw Portable Water Filter a $19 value, Yoder’s Fully Cooked Canned Bacon a $15 value all courtesy of CampingSurvival and one copy of each of my books “The Prepper’s Primer” and a copy of “The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook“ for a total prize value of $137.

How To Shoot A Pistol: Infographic

Infograpic by Basic Shield – please click on image for larger view.

How to Shoot a Pistol

Training for a First Strike – Self Defense

When the lights go out, how will you protect your OPSEC?

by Liz P

I hadn’t really thought about how much light comes from our house until I read Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford. She mentions an elderly woman whose candlelight and flashlight power could be seen through her windows at night. When neighbors and others approached her home asking for lamps and oil she had none to spare. They were upset and angry with this woman because she wouldn’t share her preps.

That night I did a light inspection and wandered around our property. I was astounded at the amount of light coming from the kitchen window. It shone almost to the back of our quarter-acre property. I then did the same test with an oil lamp and a 100-hour candle placing them the farthest away as possible from the windows.

Even with all the light pollution from neighbors and the streetlights, I could still see the faintest light from the 100-hour candle in the front bedrooms through and through the patio door blinds and kitchen to at least 15 feet. This is with the “room-darkening blinds” and patio and kitchen curtains drawn closed. Imagine the amount of light emitted from a single candle through closed blinds/curtains without all the light pollution. Anyone living within proximity of us, out for a leisurely walk, or driving by could obviously see someone was home. And for some reason, CenturyLink likes to visit us after dark. Who knows maybe they wait until dark to see who is home. But I digress.

This light emitting revelation really got me thinking about what would happen if the power went out lasting well into the night and I have my 100-hour candles and oil lamps burning bright. During the summer when it’s light at 5am and doesn’t get dark until 10pm it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Early to bed early to rise. However, what if it was winter when darkness settles in at 5:00pm? Now, I know people have generators to run their lights but I don’t have the funds to invest in one so I came up with a fairly easy solution: blackout fabric, Velcro, and some magnets.

For my first test I started small; the glass in the front door. The door is steel or some metal that lets magnets adhere to it. I knew what I wanted to do and knew there would probably be no pattern available so I used my own sewing knowledge. First, I measured the window’s length and height. Taking those measurements to one of the big box fabric stores, I found some home décor material and blackout fabric and purchased those with store coupons. Because I wanted the “drape” to look like it belonged as part of the door and part of the house, I bought enough home décor material to make a front and back. Then purchasing some large magnets from a well-known discount tool store, I was ready to sew. I folded the material right sides together in half and then pinned the blackout fabric to one side of the material. Then I sewed pockets to hold the magnets, about 1 magnet every 6” on each side. When the magnets were in place I sewed the pockets shut and then sewed the front and back together leaving a gap to turn it right-side out. I quickly sewed up the bottom and tried out my new blackout curtain. The magnets held the curtain against the door and created a light seal. I had my husband turn on the hallway light while I went out to check for light leakage. It worked great. There was no light coming through and the curtain looked like it belonged as part of the door/house.

My next step was to tackle the two street-front bedroom windows.

One bedroom is the guest bedroom, the other our “office.” We use the office daily whereas the guest bedroom is used less often but still faces the street. The “room-darkening blinds” in both rooms do little to keep light in and I needed a way to make a curtain that would totally block out light. I looked at various curtain patterns but there are problems to the design if you want to totally block out light. The rods stand out from the wall so there is light let out at the top. If the curtains meet in the middle, there could be light gap there and then light at the sides depending on the rod style. I needed something to cover the inside of the window but look like a curtain. Roman shades were the closest thing I could find that I thought would work but I didn’t want to spend the money on the materials and I would still have some light seeping through.

I used the same premise as the front door, but magnets don’t work on vinyl, so I needed to come up with a different hanging solution. Velcro. Heading back to the fabric store I once again purchased enough material to make a front and back and then enough blackout fabric to cover the size of the window. I also purchased industrial strength, sticky-back, white Velcro (and don’t forget those coupons!). I sewed the fabric and blackout fabric together then cut the Velcro and stuck it to the new curtain. I also sewed the Velcro to the new curtain because I didn’t want the Velcro to come unstuck when taking down and putting it up. If you use the sticky back Velcro, you’ll want a couple of heavy duty sewing machine needles on hand. The adhesive quickly wears down needle not to mention, it makes it sticky. The other half of the Velcro also has a sticky back. I put this part on the very top on the inside of the window. The white Velcro matches the white vinyl and the top of the mini-blind covers up the Velcro strip anyway. I only did the top of the window for now. In case of a real blackout emergency, I can quickly add more Velcro strips to the sides and bottom of the window and fabric to create a complete light seal. Once again I did a test for light leakage. I put the curtain up and then used the room light. No light shone through. I then repeated this process for the office window.

I have some great neighbors that are on constant neighborhood watch on our little cul-de-sac street, but that also makes them highly aware of any changes to the houses on our street. I also have a new nosy neighbor that has taken a keen interest in what we do around our house (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him looking over our back fence). I needed to acclimate our neighbors to the “new” décor, so once or twice a week I put the blackout blinds up at night and leave them up the next day. It definitely darkens that end of the house but it has become a “natural” part of the house.

I have added more blackout fabric along with the sticky-back industrial Velcro to my preps to cover all the windows in our house if such an occasion were to happen. The windows won’t have the home décor look but at least, I’d be protected from neighbors seeing light coming from my house and becoming angry that they weren’t prepared for when the lights went out.

Beginning to Reload: The Nitty-Gritty on the Cheapest, Smallest and Lightest Reloading Rig On The Planet

By PrepperDoc

For those who haven’t learned how to hand-reload ammunition yet, one of the easiest and cheapest possible ways is the Classic Lee Loader.   Available for less than $40, it eliminates the “cost of getting started” concern completely, because you’ll likely recoup your entire starting cost within your first 2 or 3 boxes of handgun or rifle cartridges.   Further, it is extremely compact, even amenable to a bug-out bag.  Once you learn how to reload, you are no longer dependent on politically-challenged national supplies of ammunition.   Storing components, rather than assembled cartridges is also far less bulky.  The makings of thousands of rounds can be stored easily on half a single bookshelf.

I suggest that a great starting point would be handloading 38 Special.   Inexpensive 50-round boxes of that caliber at the local discount big-box store are currently $18, but you can easily reload an entire box for under $8.   There is abundant educational material available on how to reload using the Classic Lee Loader [1], and the one-page instructions Lee provides are also excellent. [2]   There are multiple authoritative educational manuals on reloading available on the Internet; a free (PDF) Lyman reloading manual, which will teach you many important safety details, is online. [3]  This article will serve mainly to dispel inaccurate fears and concerns, and point you in the proper directions to get started.   After all, talk is cheap,  DOING is what counts, right?  It will take you far longer to READ this article that it actually takes to RELOAD several rounds, once you get the hang of it.   Typically you will make one round in less than a minute.  (A standard reloading press is quicker, but costs a bit more also.)

38 Special is chosen for a strategic reason:  you don’t need mechanical calipers to properly set the depth of bullet insertion, because the cast lead semi-wad-cutters (SWC) projectiles you will use already include a crimp indentation that marks your correct bullet seating for you.    When you move to doing taper-crimped pistol or rifle rounds, you’ll want to acquire a simple mechanical or digital caliper; these can be purchased for less than $10 at Harbor Freight.[4]

First, acquire a source of 38 Special brass (not aluminum or steel) cases.   You can use ones you’ve fired; you can pick them up at the range; or you can buy new or once-fired empty brass cases.   I get mine for free either at the range (newbie firearm owners often don’t realize the value of their brass!) or from my own cartridges; with a revolver this is especially easy, of course.   Discard any that have cracks or odd bulges or other mechanical defects.  Cases can generally be re-used until there is any crack, or the primer pocket becomes enlarged and primers go in “too easily”.   Other than cleaning off all dirt/sand, it is not really necessary to shine or clean the cases at all.   When you get proficient, you might want to “tumble” them any of several ways, but that is simply not necessary now.   (I use cracked walnut (lizard bedding) from a pet store, in an inexpensive rock-tumbler from Harbor Freight, with a couple DROPS of Brasso, no more.)

Second, purchase your reloading tools.   I’m listing MidwayUSA products, but you can purchase from anyone.   You’ll need the Classic Lee Loader in 38 Special [5] about $30, a complete set of Lee “dippers” [6] $11 and one tube of Lee case lube [7] $4.19.

Third, you must acquire your “consumables” for your newly created rounds:   primer, powder and projectiles.   Here are my suggestions:    Primers and powder can be purchased via the internet (I often use , but they require a “Hazmat” fee, so either combine orders with some buddies and split the Hazmat fee, or buy locally either one primer cassette (100) or one box (1000) of primers,  from a firearms dealer.  For 38 Special, you must use SMALL PISTOL primers, of any manufacturer (I have used Winchester, CCI and others).   Expect to pay approximately 3-4 cents each primer.

One pound of most pistol powder will make approximately 1800+ loaded cartridges, so if you can buy one pound of Win231 or HP-38 (they are identical, and the instructions below are SPECIFIC for this exact powder) locally for under $30 that solves your problem; otherwise, I suggest you find a reloader near you and persuade him/her to sell you 1/10 lb. in a proper DOT-approved smokeless-powder container – it is likely your source still has “empties”.   (Try posting a note at your target range, reloaders usually are helpful.)   BE CERTAIN your container is properly & permanently marked with the proper powder designation; it is best if it is an original DOT-approved Win231/HP-38 container.  Finally, purchase projectiles (“bullets”) :  for the instructions that follow,  you must use 158 grain lead semi-wad-cutter (“SWC”)  .358” diameter cast bullets (the weight is very important!) and I suggest Missouri Bullet Company “.38 Match” [8] at $35/500 = 7 cents each.   The barrel groove diameter for 38 Special is  NOT .38, as newcomers might suppose, but SAAMI specification is actually .355″ (bore dia. Land-to-land .346″) ; jacketed bullets will be roughly .357″, but lead bullets are typically sized .001” larger at .358″ and compress slightly. [9]

Your total consumables price per cartridge thus includes:  primer 4 cents, powder < 2 cents, projectile 9 cents or so with shipping;  the total is 15 cents per round, or $7.50 per box.   That is almost 60% OFF the normal price of inexpensive target 38 Special in my area!   And once you have your stocks in place, you are no longer dependent on retail stores to have ammo on hand, ever again.

Other than using a bit of your time (providing exercise!), there is only one real disadvantage of the Classic Lee Loader, and that is that every once in a while you are going to have a primer go off.   It is loud, similar to a balloon bursting while being filled, but the design of the Classic Lee Loader is such that it is not dangerous.   You insert the primer in such a fashion that there is a big chunk of metal between you and the primer and very little way for anything to get to you, and your fingers aren’t anywhere they could get hurt either.   I’ve loaded hundreds of rounds with a Classic Lee Loader and only had a couple primers ever go off, so dismiss this fear and move on.   If you are nervous, wear ear protection.   You SHOULD wear eye protection when reloading.  It can happen even with a big fancy press also.

The Lee instructions are CONCISE –every word and sentence is there for a reason.  As a new reloader, never deviate from their  instructions.   In the following, I’m going to walk you through some of their instructions to explain a few points.

You need a non-metallic hammer.   You can use a rubber or plastic mallet, you can use a 2×2 piece of wood, some PVC; you can even use a tree branch.   It just can’t be a steel hammer.  Improvise if necessary!

Before starting, review the parts that come with your kit to become familiar:  priming chamber (which is also the bullet seater, with a locknut); decapper rod, priming rod, Body (the “die” which not only sizes, but also crimps on the opposite end), flaring tool, decapping chamber, and the famous yellow dipper powder measure.

DECAP:  The first step is removing the old primer, which you simply punch out using the decapper rod inside the case, with the case sitting on the decapping chamber, which has a convenient hole in the bottom to allow the primer to pop out.   This is easy.   Look to be certain your brass has ONE flashhole leading to the primer (most brass in the US does); you can’t reload 2-hole “Berdan-prmed” brass.  (This is rare in the U.S.)

SIZING:   The second step is sizing.   38 Special is straightforward:  using the mallet, you just drive the case,  mouth first, into the die tool–the end of the die tool that has a slight cutout for the rim, not the side with the obvious flare/funnel-shape.  However, depending on tolerances, this may be TIGHT, and you may want to put a very thin coating of Lee lube on the outside, using a fingertip, to make this easier (and easier to get back out!).      Although the photos show this on my kitchen table, I actually had to do this on a concrete floor, and even then I was about 1/32″ short of getting it flush (the goal).   Regardless, it was plenty good enough; the finished rounds fit fine into a revolver (the ultimate goal).     I picked this caliber in part because such sized cases are very likely to function well, because they usually go into a revolver.  On a normal press, you have enormous leverage to make sizing much easier, but when you get to 50 cal, it still can take considerable muscle.  A sidenote:   Rifle bottle-neck Classic Lee Loaders size only the “neck” (where the bullet is gripped), and as such can’t reliably make ammunition for semi-automatic rifles which require precise reshaping of the body of the case.   They are not the choice for semi-auto pistols, either.   They DO make great bolt-action and revolver ammo–thus you start with 38 Special!

PRIMING:  The “fun” step is next:  priming!   The priming chamber has a spring-loaded large flat washer that allows the case to move downward, whereas the new primer sits on a center plateau that holds it still as the case envelopes it.   Insert the primer into the center hole of the priming chamber stage, set the die with the still-embedded case on top, insert the priming rod (dimpled end down) and tap the case downward onto the primer.   Keep your face away (eye protection, right?).   Note what you are tapping is the CASE, not the primer!   This will possibly take several substantial whacks, again on a concrete or sturdy support.  The system pretty much prevents you from over-inserting.   You will feel the case slip over the primer, and then it will stop moving after several whacks– you are done.   Before proceeding, feel the primer in the case head with your fingertip.   The primer MUST be flush (or slightly depressed).  If it is “proud”, it is under-inserted and  it could jam your revolver, so you have to CAREFULLY set it back into the locator ring and give it another tap.    If your cases are all tight here, try using a primer reamer tool or a cleaner tool (even a small screwdriver) to scrape out any obstructions.   If you run up on a case where you simply can’t get the primer flush–throw it into the trash.    Once you add powder in a step below, you can NEVER try to advance the primer any farther….the results would possibly be powerful.

Now you place the die tool, with the embedded primed & sized case on top of the decapping chamber you started with, and tap it gently to extract the case; leave it sitting in the decapping chamber.

FLARE:  Lead pistol bullets require “flaring” of the brass case mouth, or they will be unable to insert into the case without shaving off lead, so tap the flaring tool into the case mouth.   It has a “stop” built in.

Replace the die tool back over the case, still sitting in the decapping chamber.  The funnel top helps you add powder in the next step.

POWDER:   The 38 Special was originally designed for less-potent (but explosive!)  black powder, so the few grains of modern smokeless powder required will merely cover the bottom of the case.  It still works fine – but be VERY careful not to add additional powder beyond the recommendation, and also never FORGET to add powder at all.   The “official” load data that apply for Lead semi-wad-cutter bullets is 3.1 (minimum) – 3.7 (maximum) grains of either Win231 or HP-38 powder.   (Jacketed rounds can have a tiny bit more powder, up to 4.3 grains.)  [10]  Changing anything at all about the bullet changes the peak pressure achieved, and we are talking about BIG PRESSURES in the range of 15,000 pounds per square inch, so no creative thinking allowed here – stay well within the carefully proven safe recipes.   Extra powder, too-deeply inserted bullet, heavier bullet – all these make higher pressure.   Too little (or no!) powder, and you could “stick” a bullet in the barrel, causing the next bullet to destroy the firearm.   It is safe to go right down to the minimum, but approach the maximum carefully.   A digital powder scale is less than $30, if you have any doubts.   (I like the MTM product.)   Unfortunately the “dipper” supplied with the Lee 38 Special kit is 0.5 cc, appropriate for some other powders that I don’t use.   For Win231/HP-38 you need the Lee 0.3 cc dipper, and the only way to get it is to buy their “dipper kit” ($11) listed above.   Published specs, and my own confirmation shows that if you dip the 0.3cc dipper into Win231/HP-38 powder and fill it  level to the very top (without packing or mounding), you will have 3.2 grains, which is a perfectly safe amount of powder (exactly ONE scoop) — pour it into the case and you are done.   When you first buy the dipper, use a q-tip to massage a little lock-graphite (you can sand a pencil lead to get some) into and on the outside of the cup to avoid static electricity clumping up your powder.  NEVER put more than one level scoop of Win231/HP-38 into the case.   (When you get more advanced, using an accurate powder scale & thrower, you can experiment with somewhat stiffer charges, but not now.)  A possible load (that I have no experience with) using Alliant Unique is discussed in [11].

BULLET SEATING:  With the case still partially in the die and protruding down to rest in the decapping chamber (which means the primer is over the hole, and touching NOTHING), drop your projectile backwards down  into the mouth of the case.  Adjust the stop-collar to shorten the “handle” of the primer chamber/bullet seater,  slide it down to rest on the front of the bullet and gently tap the priming chamber until it’s lock collar  bottoms out on the die tool (this does not take much force at all).   Now remove the round and see if your bullet properly seated down to the crimp indent which is just forward of the blue lubrication ring;  if it went too far in, discard that round, shorten your handle some more and try again;  if it didn’t insert the bullet quite far enough, lengthen the handle a bit, re-setup the system and tap it in a bit farther until you get the die-tool collar properly set.   At that point accurately tighten the lock collar so your next rounds will quickly seat right to the proper spot.

BULLET CRIMPING:   The “funnel” side of the die tool is set to put a roll crimp on the mouth of the case.  With the cartridge still safely sitting in the decapping chamber (so that primer is over the hole and therefore touching nothing!), set the funnel side of the die tool over the forward end of the cartridge and tap it home (not much effort) with your mallet.   Remove the finished cartridge and you should see a nice roll crimp into the bullet indent, and the blue lube ring now hidden.

Functional evaluation:   The primer should be flush, the crimp should roll nicely into the indentation on the bullet, the cartridge should look like a commercial one, and should slide easily right into your revolver (when you get to the range).   These will definitely not be “+P” rounds, but they will exit the barrel and do significant damage to whatever they impact.

Once you have the hang of it, reloading is relatively quick and easy even on the labor-intensive Classic Lee Loader.  There is a Youtube video showing Richard Lee, the inventor, reloading a rifle case in 40 seconds. [12]  If you upgrade in the future to a standard press, your production rate will increase substantially.   But you’ll always remember fondly your days of “whack-a-mole” reloading with the Classic Lee Loader.

reloader 1


reloader 2

reload 3

reloader 4

reloader 5

reloader 6

reloader 7

reloader 8

reloader 9


[1] Video on Class Lee Loader:

[2] Lee instructions:

[3] Online Lyman reloading manual:

[4] Inexpensive digital caliper:

[5] Classic Lee Loader, 38 Special:

[6] Lee Dipper Kit (multiple sizes):

[7]  Lee Case Lube:

[8] 158 grain SWC Lead Bullet:

[9] SAAMI specification for .38 Special:

[10] Online reloading proven recipes:

[11] Alliant Unique:   I have NOT tried this, but the maximum load for Speer 158 LSWC bullet with a cartridge overall length of AT LEAST 1.44″ given at, is 4.7 grains;  the (approximate) volumetric data for Alliant Unique given at is 0.1092 cc/grain, and multiplying gives a maximum charge volume of 0.51 cc, suggesting that just-quite-level 0.5cc Lee dipper would be a safe load.   I cannot take an responsibility, however, since I haven’t tested this.

[12]  Richard Lee (the inventor) reloading using Classic Lee Loader in 40 seconds:

Tactical Tips: Carry Gear

Tactical Tips: The Practice Session