Ammunition for the Frugal Cowboy

QUICK UPDATE: I drove North this morning to shoot with the Willow Hole Cowboys in North Zulch, Texas. What a great bunch of shooters! I had several folks ask what kind of powder I was shooting since they all said it smelled kinda funny. You know you’re hanging out with a bunch of experienced shooters when they can tell what kind of ammo you’re shooting just by the smell. 😉

Like most shooting sports, there are two schools of thought on cowboy action shooting ammunition. Most serious shooters load their own ammo to control quality, consistency and cost. Reloading pistol caliber ammunition can save the average cowboy shooter thousands of dollars a year when compared to the cost of factory “cowboy loads”. The only drawback for those of us living in Southeast Texas is the heat and humidity. Reloading ammunition requires a climate controlled workshop and for most of us without a basement, that means setting up shop in your home (not with a wife and four daughters) or air conditioning your garage.

Fiocchi Cowboy Loads

Image Copyright © 2011 Fiocchi Ammunition
Factory “Coyboy Loads”

Others buy expensive “cowboy loads” like that shown above, from manufacturers like Winchester, Fiocchi, MagTech, Ultramax, Ten-X and my personal favorite, Black Hills.

It’s amazing to me how much more expensive these “cowboy loads” are than “self defense” loads from the same manufacturer. When I switched from IDPA to CAS I thought my monthly ammunition costs would go down since “all lead” bullets used in SASS competition must cost less than jacketed bullets. I also thought that the lower pressure “cowboy loads” must be less expensive to produce than my +P match-grade ammo. Boy, was I ever wrong!

Sellier & Bellot 1873 Rifle

Image Copyright © 2011 Sellier & Bellot Ammunition
Click on the image above for a larger version

Sellier & Bellot to the Rescue
When I switched from shooting a 9mm to a 45ACP for IDPA competition I knew I’d have to find a less expensive source for ammunition than my trusty Winchester “white box”. I talked with several “frugal” shooters and they pointed me to Sellier & Bellot, a company I’d frankly never heard of. After putting several thousand rounds of S&B 45ACP full metal jacket through my 1911 without a single failure, I knew I’d found the answer I’d been looking for.

Sellier & Bellot has long occupied a key position in European ammunition production and ranks among the oldest munitions companies in the Czech Republic. They have continuously produced ammunition since 1825. In 2009, the Brazilian company “Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos S.A.” (CBC), also known as Magtech became the owner of Sellier & Bellot.

Sellier & Bellot Ammunition

Image Copyright © 2011 Sellier & Bellot Ammunition

Excellent Quality
When I switched from IDPA to Cowboy Action Shooting I once again turned to Sellier & Bellot for the best value in lead cartridges I could find. S&B produces some of the cleanest burning and highest quality ammunition I’ve ever used. Their powder burns quickly and completely, making firearm cleaning much easier than with other “cowboy loads”. Their lead-round-nose and lead-flat-nose bullets are polymer coated (similar to moly coated lead bullets) and really “fly” through my pistols leaving little residue behind, even in the forcing cone. They feed through my 1866 Yellowboy beautifully and their brass casings come out in near perfect condition.

I hate to admit this but the Sellier & Bellot ammunition I’m currently using (.38 Special, LRN, 158gr, 977 fps) shoots so much better than other brands I’ve tried, that I’m breaking my “Buy American Whenever Possible” pledge!

Incredible Value
So let’s talk money for a few minutes. Not only does Sellier & Bellot ammunition shoot better than anything else I’ve tried, it costs significantly less than any “cowboy load”.

Cheaper Than Dirt (.38 Special, 158gr LRN, 50 rounds per box)
Winchester Cowboy Load – $27.16/box or $0.54/round
Remington Express – $26.58/box or $0.53/round
Magtech Cowboy Load – $21.81/box or $0.44/round
Fiocchi Cowboy Load – $19.04/box or $0.38/round
Sellier & Bellot – $16.94/box or $0.34/round

Don’t take my word for it. Buy a box of Sellier & Bellot LRN cartridges and try them out at your next practice session. Shoot one of your single action pistols with this round and another using your normal “cowboy load” of choice. I’d be willing to bet that you come to the same conclusion that I did. For those of you that load your own, do an honest comparison between your reloading cost versus S&B’s $0.34/round cost. I think you’ll be surprised at how close it is.

I think Sellier & Bellot ammunition is a frugal cowboy shooter’s best choice on the market today!