Where to Buy Stuff
Date: Sep 28 2006
While many sporting goods stores stock handloading tools and supplies, normally their shelves are limited to more commonly used stuff, whether dies and brass for the most popular calibers or bullets from the biggest manufacturers. If you want something a little off-beat, whether brass for the .405 Winchester, dies for the .280 Ackley Improved or a full selection of 9.3mm bullets, they might or might not be willing to order it. Most of the time it's quicker and easier to order it yourself.
My primary source for most handloading supplies is MidwayUSA (www.midwayusa.com). Its 2006 catalog is 866 pages long, and every year more stuff is stocked. Generally delivery (even to my doorstep in small-town Montana) is quicker than estimated, and the prices are good.
The only problem I've had with MidwayUSA is an occasional item not being in stock. This is most consistent with "seasonal" cartridge brass, the stuff like .300 H&H or .250 Savage that major companies only make occasionally. Despite Winchester .38-55 brass being listed, I tried for over a year to buy some, always getting the same answer: It was only available seasonally. What season would that be, since I'd called every couple of months for about 15 months?
That's one reason I also depend on several smaller companies for many purchases. A good source for shotgun minishells is www.masonmunitions.com. Foremost among those is Huntington (www.huntingtons.com). While Huntington supply of loading dies is limited to RCBS (the owner of Huntington is "Buzz" Huntington, the son of RCBS founder, Fred Huntington), the selection of brass and bullets is wider than that of MidwayUSA, including its own HDS brass. I've used this in a few obscure calibers, notably .450/.400 3" Nitro-Express, and it is of excellent quality. Huntington also recently started selling .303 Savage brass made by Norma, also of course excellent, and on at least three recent occasions, I ordered brass from Buzz that MidwayUSA listed but didn't ever have when I called: .25-35 WCF, .250 Savage and .38-55. (That's not to say Huntington will always have the brass you want, but very often the company has saved my day.)