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Building a System of Similarly Chambered Guns and Exploring the Wildcat Cartridges

Guns are very powerful and can help you accomplish the things you need to when in an off-the-grid or emergency scenario. Guns, however, require ammunition, and without ammunition, can become a hindrance or worse. As ammo prices continue their upward climb, it is important to look for utility in your cartridges and plan for a time when ammunition won’t be available at ANY cost.

It’s important to understand how to build a set of similarly chambered guns to at least determine if this practice makes sense for your situation. It’s not for everyone, but it can be very useful for those willing to do a bit of research and really want to save some money, reduce their stress in a trying time, and gain more consolidation in their lifestyle.

There are many reasons to consider this ideology, but perhaps none is more important than the backbone of the off-the-grid lifestyle: sustainability.

With a system of similarly chambered weapons, you will be able to reuse and recycle brass, enhance ballistics for specific needs, and tailor your arsenal of hunting and self-defense weapons to your style of usage. Being able to use similar components in several firearms allows you to custom build a plan for your weapons and feel a greater peace of mind regarding cost, implementation, and efficiency.

What do you mean when you say “similarly chambered” weapons?

The author isn’t suggesting you use all the same calibers in your various rifles, pistols, and assault rifles; that type of thinking isn’t efficient, practical, or even possible in most cases. What the author is suggesting is to look at caliber ranges that can use similar reloading tools, ammunition components, add-ons, and cleaning equipment.

Being able to prepare across the board for 30 percent less money with the same usage potential and to have components that can be modified safely and easily in a pinch will give you a lot of extra mileage from your firearm and ammo dollars.

Why would you consider this setup?

Take for example the .300 Whisper cartridges that can use a necked-up cartridge casing from a .223 to house a 240+ grain bullet in a .308 diameter. What does that mean? It means you can use the same spent brass to reload for your assault and home-protection rifle as well as your deer-hunting rifle. If you are more utilitarian, you could use the same gun even (let’s say an AR-15) to hunt deer and protect your home, while using ONLY one extra component for reloading.

Why would you want to do this?

  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Working less in reloading your different calibers (assuming you have several)
  • Tailoring ballistics to match the task at hand
  • Adding versatility at minimal cost

What type of setup would I need to do this?

  • AR-15 lower receiver package
  • 1 AR-15 .223 upper receiver setup
  • 1 AR-15 .300 Whisper upper receiver setup
  • .223 ammo/brass/reloading components (bullets) or combination thereof
  • .308 bullets (projectiles)
  • 1 type of general-use powder
  • 1 type of primer
  • 1 set of dies and associated trimmers, chamfering tools, and necking tools for each caliber
  • Magazines for use with or modified to use the different cartridges (mark them to keep them separate and avoid incorrect usage in stressful situations)
  • One set of cleaning and maintenance tools and parts

Building an arsenal of similarly chambered weapons is not about beauty; it is about versatility, utility, and customization without excess work. For those who want a sustainable arsenal of weapons, it can provide the solution without breaking the bank, while allowing you to keep on hand less extra parts, reloading components, and more importantly, less live (expensive and space consuming) ammunition.

*As a side note, the AR-15, while it may not be for everyone, has an almost limitless amount of customization built into the system, with an almost “plug and play” ease of use. You could put a .22LR upper receiver and magazine onto your AR-15 lower receiver in seconds and use it for small game to conserve your more expensive ammunition, but you could also use it with a shortened barrel and pistol calibers to allow for better indoor usage and more mobility. A hunting rifle could be made out of such a weapon with the correct scope and upper receiver (take the .300 Whisper for example). It is not the author’s desire to convert you to an AR-15 fan, but simply to analyze all your options when looking for a versatile weapon or weapon system.

Another couple of rounds that may be useful are the Special-Forces-friendly and body-armor-penetrating 6.8mm SPC and the .400 CorBon. You may even include the .357 Sig round in that mix, but it may have seen its best days in the past.

The .400 CorBon is a round able to be fit into a 1911 or other .45 auto with a simple barrel swap (sometimes ALSO a magazine follower swap) that could produce 10mm-type ballistics without the frame breaking or very punishing recoil problems and which would save brass to be used again. The 10mm is widely accepted as having some of the best all-time ballistic characteristics in a pistol cartridge, but was torture on the shooter and the weapon due to the amount of powder, the incredible muzzle velocity, and the awkward bullet characteristics. The .400 CorBon was developed to allow these incredible ballistics to be used in a way that could negate some of the negative attributes and has therefore found a home amongst hardcore ballistics lovers. As a home-defense caliber, few cartridges have the stopping power of this round. Instantly you expand your capabilities of your weapon for a few hundred dollars (a new barrel and some reloading supplies). Using two different rounds only serves to allow you more flexibility and give you some extra room on your supplies.

Here is the bottom line: 180 grain bullets with a 1250 FPS speed for a .400 CorBon (suitable for small game, by the way) vs. the .45’s sub-1k FPS speed. You can expect to get between two and five inches more penetration in ballistic gelatin with the .400 CorBon, making it great for enhanced protection purposes. You can also use it at lower grain sizes for hunting (for example a 135-grain .400 CorBon can do 1450+ FPS).

The 6.8 mm SPC uses a .30 Remington case to split the difference in ballistic performance between a .223 and a .308, and can produce speeds of 3,000+ FPS (85 grain bullet) and 2,800+ FPS (115 grain). This is considered perfect for medium game (think deer) hunting and can penetrate ballistic vests and armored homes or vehicles in certain scenarios. This is more a specific wildcat ammo play, as it’s quite expensive to use .30 Rem casings unless you already own a .30 Rem-chambered rifle. But this ammunition is currently used in many Special Forces teams as a CQB (Close Quarter Battle) cartridge of choice, due to its lack of over penetration in building materials and the maximum penetration in soft tissue. It’s a real ballistic powerhouse, which deserves a look to increases you useful needs in a survival or off-the-grid situation.

The point of this article is to open your mind to the possibility of gaining a truly unique advantage over your situation through selective ballistic tailoring, as well as keeping you from spending too much money to buy extra weapons and expensive ammunition when you can plan to have these on hand at a much lower cost with a significantly higher value.

The systems described above are worth a look if this style of shooting or the mentality laid out makes some sense to you, but try to be thorough in your research and even more so in your planning, as you don’t want to be stuck in a bad situation through poor planning or understanding.

©2011 Off the Grid News

© Copyright Off The Grid News


  1. I have to disagree with you to a point. RE the 6.8 in an AR 15 platform. The ammo for this cartridge is costly. It is double of a 223 aka 5.56. It costs the same as 308 for which there are many different choices of bullets than the 6.8. I agree it is a good round. I also don’t see the advantage of mixing uppers and lowers. Now you can have a confusion of a mess with which one is the weapon. And switching to a different barrel in a 45ACP is just asking for disaster. If you have a 45, still to this day the best in knock down power of any handgun cartridge, have a 45. If you want a different caliber, have a gun for that. You should also have the most common calibers in your guns. Ammo you can find anywhere. I.E. 223-5.56/ 9mm/ 45acp/ 308- 7.62×51/ 7.62×39/ These previous 5 cartridges are all over the world. All NATO countries manufacture them. 40 cal handguns have become very popular as most USA police depts are now using it and brass and ammo is plentiful.
    Wildcat cartridges are fun, but can be costly. You have to buy a complete separate die set. Most you can’t purchase ammo in bulk. I personally would rather take my money and put it standard ammo and guns than wildcat styles.
    Also, handloading is a very slow process. With rifle rounds, trimming and chamfering is required. Unless you have a commercial press you can have 10 pulls to one round. Not efficient. Great for hunters and competition. Not great for when you needs ammo in bulk. I have a commercial press. It still is very time consuming. To trim, you have to switch the tool head (time consuming), you have to size and trim. You have to buy equipment to clean the brass. I try to size and prime 3-4 thousand at a time. Switch tool head. Readjust dies. Run the press. It is a lot of work. Run every round thru a chamber checker. Your ammo will probably be as good if not better than factory. It costs me about $200 for 1,000 rounds of 223. I can buy factory reloads for $260. New for 280 at a gun show. It is an awful lot of work to save a few bucks. I have $3,000 invested in a reloading press. I am thinking of selling it and just replace with ammo and have a lot of free time to grow my garden.

    • Absolutely correct, but the entire article isn’t only about cost, some of it is focusing on maximum effectiveness of ballistics as well.

      I am not a user of the 6.8, but my Special forces friends and family are, they have their reasons. TO have the capability on hand during a time of crisis or uncertainty, can increase the odds of survival. It’s a talking point mostly, a starter for those who want maximum versatility, to explore the idea.

      I do however agree with both of you on many points. In essence I am always looking for the best in value, but I also will not shy away from tactical advantage either.

  2. I agree with ‘lonetrader’. I’ve been reloading for years and wouldn’t want to go through the
    hassle of resizing .223 and necking up and all that when it is much easier to just buy standard
    military cartridges and guns. If TSHTF, military ammo will be available when specialty components
    are long gone. Having said that, I do agree with the premise of the article, trying to standardize and
    keep it simple. I’m also buying components in bulk when possible ( when the Spousal Unit doesn’t
    freak out too much). All my guns are military cartridges, except for .357 Mag, and .260 Rem, but
    I also have LOTs of brass and Thousands of bullets. The .260 Rem has superior ballistics compared
    to the .308, but the trade off is that is is not a military round. The .357 Mag can be used with .38 Special
    ammo for cheap practice and the revolver is great for simplicity. Load it, pull the trigger, it goes bang.

    • Same here when home, but now I am in Afghanistan and doing the job for real. What I want to find is someone who is good at reloading shotgun and will trade rounds with me. I tired shotgun shells and just wasnt very good at them.
      Another thing for old guys, organize your loading bench, the time that I could read the difference between the cal stamps on the bottom of 30-06 vs 270 is apparently over. And they are too close to eyeball. So, I always use my spectacles and try to never mix them.

  3. well i have a sks thats 7.62×39 and it is a .311 to .312 bullet that it takes ive also got a pair of remington mod 742s in .308winchester that i also shoot 7.62x51nato that is pretty much the same ammo right now im only set up to reload for my 308s but in the next few weeks i will have the dies to reload for the sks these are my semi auto guns that my wife and i both shoot i have a bunch of bolt action hunting guns that i also reload for its true its nice to have it down to just a few powders and thats what i have done is put my self down to just 2 pistole powders and just 2 shotgun powders that i can also use for pistol loads if i need to my rifle powders im down to useing just 4 different ones they cover everything that i own and if i really had to and wasent so fussy with my loads i could get my rifle powders down to just 2 but with reloading i try to match up my loads to what gives me my best groups i think ive got enuff primers stored up now to last me for years of shooting besides im thinking more along the lines of useing my guns for hunting and putting meat on the table and filling up the freezers im in northcentral maine and up here we dont really have that many people so i dont really see the need for a real shtf haveing to fend off gangs that are after my food but we do have plenty of ammo and enuff stuff to beable to keep hunting for the next 20 years if we had to and not have to buy a nother round of factory ammo if i didnt want to but heck thats no fun i like to shoot the factory stuff plinking for the brass factor because the way i look at it we never have enuff guns or ammo im always looking for something different to shoot heck now im even looking at getting a birdshot maker just so i can make my own shot i found one guy that has them up in my area that sell for around 200 bucks im betting it would pay for its self in no time

  4. Just my 2-cents worth but I find that sticking to the more common military calibers will definately be to your advantage. 5.56, 7.62 X 39, 7.62 X 51 (.308), 45acp, etc. will all be availble in quantity wtshtf. The only other recommendation I would make is to be sure you have a couple of 22’s in your arsenal. The ammo is still cheap enough to be able to put away 5,000 – 10,000 rounds without excessive cost over-runs. One of the spec-ops people I know said that all you really need is a shtf moment is a 22 with abt.100 rnds. After using that up you should have been able to take out at least one bad guy and gotten his weapon and ammo. Of course that means you have to be able to shoot well enough to take them out. And that my friends is the most CRUCIAL aspect of all this talk of weapons. The most important thing is not how many guns you have or how much ammo you’ve been able to acquire – it’s knowing how to use it properly. That’s another reason to own a 22. You can spend hours at the range without spending a fortune and be able to use all your marksmanship training ( if you’ve had any) to keep your skills sharp. If you haven’t had any real training may I recommend attending an “Appleseed” event or join the CMP. Here are the links for those unfamiliar with them:

  5. It would help many people– to save BIG money to have the (same caliber weapons) like either a rifle and a hand gun (in the same caliber) or a combo weapon that shoots “both” like a “the Judge-hand gun that shoots a 45 caliber and a 410 Gage shotgun shell” or the shotgun version- that Shoots a 410 shell and also shoots a 45caliber shell-but you DO have to change out the choke to do that first”. That way you ONLY need to buy 2 kinds of ammo for your boxes. You can buy larger quantities-cheeper at gun shows. would like to be able to buy the bigger quantities at regular gun stores. But it’s getting harder to find them… Makes good sense…

  6. One more thing. Always pay cash. Cash talks, and well, you know the rest.

  7. Some time ago I bought a .40 S & W Glock. Police trade in mags, most look as if they have never been used, are reasonable and every police department in most of the country uses them in that caliber. Good point made about being able to shoot. Only hits count, noise and comotion kills no game or enemy. The same for the 5.56, I loath the caliber but bought a rifle in that caliber because the troops will be using it. Think in terms of worst cases. The police and military will have 9mm, .40 S&W, 5.56 and a few .308 sniper rifles. Even the machine guns are going to the 5.56 although a lot of M-60’s are still in the armories(.308 or 7.62×51 if you prefer. In extreme circumstances, you will have to get ammunition like the Native Americans, off the bodies of your enemies or trading with corrupt police and military. And human nature being what it is you may be better off with a 1,000 pre 64 silver dimes than a thousand cartridges for some exotic arm.

    • You bring up a very valid point in TRADING. Having extras of tradable items can be beneficial. Extra food, ammo, extra firearms, cigarettes, silver and gold coins, even booze.

  8. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this subject. I was raised in the woods of East Texas, and still live here, and have been hunting and fishing as long as I can remember and I’m a pretty old guy. My bona fides, I presently shoot 12 different caliber rifles and reload for all ecept the .22 and .22 magnum. Handguns, six different calibers with two being a .22 and .22 magnum. I guess I ought to include black powder handguns and rifles also and various shotguns.

    What would I do if I was in the need of firearms and ammunition if I never had any eperience? First there is the .22. The Ruger 10/22 is a very popular good shooting semi-automatic. With an after market 25 round magazine there is a lot of fire power there. It is excellent for small game such as squirrel and rabbits. Next, a real hunting rifle, I would go with a SKS for a semi-automatic, from any of the arious manufacurers. For a bolt action, the MN91/30 has one of the best and most reliable receivers on a battle rifle. I wouldn’t even consider a handgun. A 20 gauge pump shotgun with #4 buckshot is a real man stopper. It can also be used for small game and even deer with the proper size pellets.

    I wouldn’t give a thought to reloading. That’s money that can be spent on ammo. For the .22, a chain store like WalMart has bricks of 550 rounds at a good price. For the 7.62X39 SKS I would get a couple cases of FMJ from some one like, or one of the many other suppliers. Make sure it has non-corrosie primers. A case of HP will make it a deer killer also. As for the Mosin, the same advice, a couple cases of FMJ and some HP or SP for large game. As far as the 20 gauge pump, I gave one to my daughter when she graduated from college for self protection, commercial ammo availble everywhere.

    A cleaning kit from most any chain store or mail order store plus some bore cleaner and spray lubricant should finish the bill of goods.

    So that’s my two cents worth.

    • However when I was in the LA Riots the state took away the ability to buy ammo. So they didnt break the consitituion. You still had your rifle, just no bullets. I swore they would never catch me flat footed. I bought a dillon progressive press and began loading. A eight pound keg of powder will make me around 16000 rounds. I have 3 for each caliber. More for rifles. I have 8-10 ammo boxes full of primers. And at least two of those big pretzel jars full of brass for each cal. MY costs even for my weatherby are below 50cents a round.
      I am, of course, military, so it isnt a phobia more than a work related hobby, but I understand how it may look to someone who owns a single weapon and a single box of ammo. However if the SHTF, and you have skills or something I want, come on over and barter…… I was also thinking of raising rabbits to eat cause I have seen things go bad and it is scary.

  9. There are some misconceptions in this article, some of them to the point of being entirely incorrect.

    First, the 6.8 SPC. I’m a former Special Forces operator and a friend of one of the two men that developed this cartridge. That person, just in case you’re curious is Steve Holland, also a member of the 5th SFG. This round was developed at the ground level to create a cartridge that would overcome the problems that SF had immediately following their infiltration in Afghanistan on October 7, 2011. That would be a lack of penetration and killing power. However, the army in their infinite wisdom, shot down the idea and it has to this day NEVER seen the light of day with any SF operators, only being seen as a testbed, but nothing else. No uppers in this caliber nor whole weapons in this caliber have EVER been issued to SF troops and they have not been allowed, nor have they done so on their own, brought in personal weapons of this caliber. Your source is 100% WRONG!

    Second, the 10mm beating up the frame on 1911s is only partially true. I have one and have put several thousand rounds through it, but I built it myself using both a recoil spring buffer and the PROPER recoil spring. I have had no problems at all with mine and see no problem with the recoil in regards to follow up shots either. I have built a few for other people and know of several that have been built by friends and again, thousands of rounds…no problems. The problems that you cite are in regards to guns that were improperly fit with the incorrect recoil spring or defective frames.

    The ballistics that you cite for the .400 Corbon are almost identical to those for the 10mm, the ONLY difference is that by the time that this round was introduced those companies, such as Colt, had learned to deal with the pressure curve of the 10mm round, but instead decided to make guns in .400 Corbon as this round had earned no reputation for hammering the frame of a 1911. There is NO magic bullet (sorry for the pun) in regards to pressure. If you fire a .401″ bullet (10mm & .400 Corbon) of a given weight out of identical barrel lengths and you get the same velocity you will get the same pressure. Ask any ballistics engineer and they will tell you the same. If you’d like I can pass along to you the name of a few so that you can the correct information before writing an article with such grand mis-information.

  10. Lots of good stuff here men. I’m 52, never been in our armed forces, but I grew-up in a military town and have lived on a farm. My knowledge comes from 360* of inter-acting with life….

    So, my level of preparedness is, practice, practice, practice. Both me and my son shoot weekly. We have M4’s suited to each personality, we have matching S&W m&p 15-22’s, 100 dollars of .22 ammo goes alot further than tha same in.223. He has a 20ga. Deer-slayer, mine is a 590 tac. Handguns are 1911’s in 45acp & 9mm with .22 conversions……tha AR’s and tha 1911’s are the same platform and similar in function and and feel tha same in your hand.
    So run what ya brung, cannibleize tha bad-guy, keep in mind, he shoots just as good as you do, you just have to shoot better, faster, and more accurate.
    I just came from a gun show, reloading components exceed that of bulk ammo……21 cents per rd for 7.62x39mm and same for .223rem,,,,bulk .45acp was 32 cents per rd, .308win was .75 cents per rd, .22cal at walmart 550ct under 20 dollars.
    Remember; your weapon is your SECONDARY weapon, YOUR MIND is always your FIRST line of defence.
    Thanx for allowing me this oppertunity….

  11. Since other old farts are chiming in so will I. Almost all my rifles fire a 30 cal bullet, except the daughters .270 and my Win 338 (Cause I thought I would be cool if I fired this one)
    A 30 Cal Carbine
    several 30-30’s
    Several 30-06’s
    300 win mag, 300 Wby
    and 7.62 x39 autos and bolts action
    Many 12 Guages,
    Pistols: .45 9mm
    Bunches of 22’s

    By standardizing to 30 Cal, and buying brass/primers and poweder for 20 years, I now have my Cost per round down to about 35cents even in the weatherby and Win mags,
    Pistols are much cheaper.
    Here are my limiting price factors, if I can get rounds cheaper than this it is better to buy them than make them, and I always buy them whether I have thousands on hand or not.
    .45 @ < 35 cents a round
    9mm < .35 a round
    7.62 x 39 < .26 a round
    30.06 < .50 a round
    .22 at or < 3 cents a round
    If you find them that cheap, buy them.

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