Remanufactured as Good as New?

Other than time and motivation, cost is typically the third prohibitive factor to buying quantities of ammunition to go out and train. To mitigate this issue, shooters will often scour the Internet looking for the best deals on bulk ammunition, turn to reloading, or start buying ammunition of dubious quality.

Now being an officer with a ton of competing demands, I, like many other police officers (a whole other article) don’t train nearly as much as we should. Dry fire is the obvious and merited solution, however time on the range serves as a validation tool (for marksmanship and accuracy), and there are simply more variables and challenges that one can set up and work through on the range, or on a competition course of fire.

Instead of surrendering to drown in a sea of complacency, I typically bite the bullet and just buy ammo. That’s what overtime shifts are for anyways: my kiddo’s college fund and ammo. I was therefore intrigued when I was approached by Chris from Blue Lakes Ammo, out of Spencer, IA.

Blue Lakes Ammo started off as an ammunition casing sorter/processing company and had gained a reputation for quality processing of once-fired brass using Camdex processors – restoring once-fired brass from the range back into pristine, clean casings that look like they’re straight from the factory.

Chris let me know that aside from casing restoration, Blue Lakes Ammo was now in the reloading game, and wanted to send along a sample of their 115gr 9mm for me to try out. His timing was perfect, as I was working on an aftermarket trigger series of articles, and was going to be going through a bit of ammo for each trigger I used. A few weeks later, Chris sent along 500 rounds of 115gr 9mm.

First things first. The packaging. Blue Lakes Ammo, sent me 500 rounds of ammo in a clear plastic jug. Unique to be certain, and incredibly handy. No boxes or superfluous packaging to worry about, throw away, or whatnot – just open the top, pour some rounds out, and get to loading.

Photo Credit: Chris Tran

I inspected the vast majority of the rounds that were sent to me. The mixed brass was pristine, the bullets themselves were glistening and free of dings or dents, and I noticed no rough edges, bullet set back, raised primers, or other obvious defects in any of the rounds that I rifled through.

The handgun I used was my Project Glock G17: frame contoured and stippled by CAR Firearms, an Agency Arms Urban Combat slide equipped with a Trijicon RM06, and an Innovative Gunfighter Solutions Enhanced Duty Trigger ( EDT ) that I covered in a previous article.

Once loaded up, I was off to the races.

I started off at the 20 yard line to settle in, and to work on my RMR sight picture as I’m still relatively new to the RMR, and needed some reps. After a couple of mags to warm up, I thought a 5-shot group was in order. To compare, I shot a comparison group of Speer Lawman 124gr 9mm as well. All 10 shots were from 20 yards, standing offhand. The hashmarked round impacts are the Speer Lawman 124gr, and the circled round impacts are the Blue Lakes Ammo. As can be seen, with the exception of one errant shooter-induced flier, the Blue Lakes Ammo printed very well, and groupings such as these were consistent throughout testing as the round count went up.

Photo Credit: Chris Tran

Round after round, mag after mag, the Blue Lakes Ammo performed flawlessly. I experienced no malfunctions, ammo-induced or otherwise, for all 500 rounds. Now, all of that being said, 500 rounds is a pretty small sample, however for an initial start, it’s a good one. The difficult thing for a start-up ammo company is consistency AND constancy; that is, consistent performance over a long period of time. 500 rounds is by no means a representative sample enough for me or anyone else to claim the ammunition is good to go, however from my limited experience, the ammunition shows promise.

So let’s talk cost.

50 round box: $10.00 = $.20/round;
250 round jug: $47.50 = $.19/round;
500 round jug: $92.50 = $.18/round

Let’s compare that to 115gr reman Freedom Munitions, love it or hate it:

50 rounds: $9.00 = $.18/round;
250 rounds: $45.00 = $.18/round;
500 rounds: $90.00 = $.18/round;

How about 115gr reman Great Lakes Ammunition:

500 rounds: $115.00 = $.23/round

Remanufactured ammunition pricing is dependent on several things, including the capacity an individual company has for production, their set profit margin, as well as components. Currently, Blue Lake Ammo are using Berry’s Manufacturing bullets, Lovex "Clean Shot" powder, and Ginex, CCI, and Remington primers. The 9mm currently chronos at 1150 fps, and Blue Lakes Ammo should have more data coming soon.

The only downside I’ve found so far is the jug. Granted, it’s easy to pour rounds out, but it would be even easier if the mouth of the jug was a bit wider so users could simply reach in and grab a handful without becoming like the proverbial kid with his hand in the cookie jar. The jugs in of themselves are an excellent idea, and I like them so much more than having to pour out 50 round boxes into an ammo can…and I can repurpose the jug for other uses when the ammo is gone. Like it is now.

I hope to continue my relationship with Blue Lakes Ammo, and I hope to see how the company does over time. With more rounds out to customers’ hands, more reliable data can be collected and we can really see what the worth of this promising new company will display over time. All that being said, if my limited initial experience (both with quality of product and staff I’ve communicated with) is any indication, these guys are definitely worth watching.

If you want to know more about Blue Lakes Ammo, they have a new presence on Facebook, their website is set to launch in a couple of months here, and they’re on Instagram.

Check out Chris Tran on Facebook and Instagram.

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