Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ammunition: How much is enough?

The argument over how much ammo to buy and store is one of the most widely contested subjects on the Survival/Militia internet forums today. Many feel that only 500 rounds total is necessary while others suggest amounts that would require heavy trucking to move about.

All things considered, the amount of ammo you need to store is directly tied to what your perception of what TSHTF will consist of and how you go about preparing for it. The amount of ammo required by a homeowner protecting the contents of his home after a natural disaster is considerably less than the Survivalist preparing for a multi-generational economic collapse/NWO takeover/Government suspension of civil rights scenario.

In one you may have to protect yourself and property for several months while in the others your succeeding generations (if there are any) will have to rely on what you stored up for them. So where does this put you? Since this relies on your personal beliefs, no one can tell you what will suit your needs. You must evaluate what may possibly happen during your SHTF period and purchase accordingly.

Do you feel that you will have to fight off the ravening hordes of un-prepared sheeple?
Do you plan on supplementing your stored food with small game?
How good of shot are you? Can you do one shot kills on an attacking feral dog pack?

If you like to shoot as a hobby you may already have reloading equipment and lots of supplies. It is a worthwhile hobby to take up as it can cut the cost of ammo for your favorite non-common caliber, whether it is a wildcat load or an obsolete military caliber, and it is also fun. But how much is enough?

Perhaps the best way to approach this is to set up a purchasing plan. Work out on paper (or computer) the most likely scenario to happen in your area sooner than later. If you do not have supplies to get you thru 72 hours of your favorite SHTF, that is your primary concern. If you don’t have one, buy your primary weapon for your arsenal and several hundred rounds to go with it. Next purchase a weeks worth of storage food. Then purchase water purifying supplies that will clean 50 or more gallons. Alternate your purchases each month building on what you had before until you have reached a level at which you are comfortable.

Once you have done this, then plan for the next most likely scenario. Using this technique you can slowly build up a supply of food, water, gear and ammo without sacrificing one group of items for the sake of another. You will also be able to add gear for the least likely scenario without sacrificing for the most likely to happen.

Now that you have met your most dire needs and prepared for those what ifs, you can begin to stock-up on ammo.

But what do you buy?

First thing to understand is that in a natural disaster, life will go on outside of the affected zone. This means that ammo will continue to be produced by the respective manufacturers and what you have accumulated through your purchasing plan should be sufficient for your needs.


If we were to experience an economic breakdown, with riots and such, martial law would most likely be imposed, some people disarmed (most likely the wrong ones), and no ammo available for the foreseeable future, if ever again. Let the experiences of those who suffered the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters be a lesson to you.

Lesson 1
You can be forcibly removed from your home for “your own good”! In a future disaster, your food and supplies may be seized and redistributed to the sheeple.

Lesson 2
You will be disarmed for the general good. You may be shot if you do not co-operate willingly. You may never see your firearms again.

Lesson 3
The government is inept at responding to disasters of this scope.

Lesson 4
Those with the guns make the rules.

Those with extensive reloading supplies (hidden away) will be in a fairly good position, but you can not reload .22lr!

The barrel life of most average modern (WWI and up) military firearms is up to 50,000 rounds fired with proper cleaning techniques and controlled rates of fire of 5 to 10 seconds between shots.

This is also true of most .22lr’s.

So now we reach the answer for a multi-generational firearm. Buy for the life of the barrel. Unless you own a Ruger 10/22 and a select few other makes, the ability to replace the barrel will exceed the skill of most users, especially after TSHTF. The 10/22 has an easily removable barrel and a spare can be stockpiled along with other spare parts needed to keep your rifle humming.

100,000 rounds of .22lr = $2000.00+ in today’s money. This is a large, forbidding outlay of cash for a lot of us, so the answer is to continue to purchase over time, and storing in metal ammo boxes.

Now you ask, What do I need with all that ammo?

YOU don’t need all that ammo. But your children and grandchildren may. If a MG-SHTF (multi-generational) happens it is likely .22lr will never in the foreseeable future be manufactured again!

Therefore, what you have put aside will be more valuable than gold. Literally. Where someone may sneer at your Krugerand they may jump at the chance to barter for a handful of .22lr.

Don’t forget, a certain amount will be spent in training new hunters and will not contribute anything to the stew pot! Also, prices will continue to climb and eventually, the Government may ban ammo sales altogether.

Ok, now what about the other calibers?

The same goes for the other calibers of your arsenal. You may want to buy some of each caliber at the same time or rotate it like you did with your gear. I would not buy 100,000 rounds of anything unless I had a secure area to store it in, away from confiscation and looting, in an area you feel secure in caching it, or at your secure retreat. Also, do not neglect other aspects of survival just to buy ammo.

Stockpiling large amounts of ammo is not for everyone. I do not advocate it if you have little or no disposable income to prepare with. But for those thinking of buying gold or silver for TEOTWAWKI, I would recommend that you first consider ammo. For barter purposes, stocking up on some of the less common calibers might give you the leverage you need to get that one item you want and need which nothing else will budge. Reloading dies in these calibers will insure a steady customer for your trade goods.

A lot of people say that bartering ammo is a bad idea as it may be used against you (me included), but I think that once the situation has stabilized to the point that community bartering is occurring on a regular organized basis, this danger may be past. Bartering at an established trading post will help alleviate some of this danger once they have been created (and they will).

So, for my last recommendation.

Buy a black powder flintlock rifle and learn how to make your own black powder. Store extra flints as well as barrels, lock mechanisms, bullet molds and lead. You may well then truly have the ultimate rifle for civilizations end.


  1. Excellent article. Well thought out.
    About 65 years ago when .22 shorts were 10 cents the box and I didn't have 10 cents, I determined that I would never be without a lifetime's worth of ammo. In those days, in my family, the .22 and 12 gauge put meat on the table. I began putting away 500 to 1,000 rounds of .22s each year. One can stack 50,000 rounds of .22s in a small space.
    As I got older I began a similar ammo stacking program with 30-06, .44 mag, .45 ACP, 12 gauge and a couple of other calibers.
    I have always bought and stored extra primers, powder and cases each year.
    I also agree with your black powder recommendations.
    Thank you for sharing your insight.
    Mountain rifleman

  2. Even without the total meltdown, zombies stalking the streets scenario, having a good stash of spare ammunition is a good thing. I'm one who believes that it is better to go into the fight with 900 rounds of recent practice behind you an 100 rounds in your ammo pouches, than 1,000 rounds in your pouches and no recent practice. During the recent shortages, I have maintained my regular level of practice, on a range that is virtually deserted. I've been able to maintain my stock of reloading components by waiting on backorders of as long as six months, while still practicing regularly. I stock enough of all of the calibers that I shoot for two years of regular practice. That gives you a lot of flexability in locationg replacemet ammo or compontents.

  3. Interesting post on a subject I've thought about.

    On the .22LR and how much ammo for it, for the first swag I took at it I neglected practice and training and the use of other arms like a shotgun or air rifle. Most of my use for it is not really hunting but rather targets of opportunity while I'm doing something besides hunting. I guessed that used in this manner I wouldn't fire more than 10 rounds per week and probably less. By that guesstimate one bulk pack (500 to 550 rounds) per year would be the minimum. Two packs per year would probably cover my use except for the possibility of trading. How much is enough? I don't know but I would prefer to have 10x that amount.

  4. I've begun thinking of keeping ammo reserved for some guns as a package. That cheap Tokarev ammo is tempting ($8 for 72 rounds - thats a bargain!) and the pistols themselves are priced at just over two C notes. So for around $300, you get a pistol and 500 rounds, not too shabby in these days. Corrosive, yeah, but water and windex are pretty cheap to stock up as well - be sure to oil after use.

  5. ...Fantastic post SS...i go with the ol'saying,more than i could probably use,but not near as much as i want...

    ...i'm back to what i call preppin' in thirds...1/3 sustenance (food/water/seed etc),1/3 hardware(includes ammo/gun care goodies),1/3 software(dern near everything to work out pretty good for me,this way i only have three lists too...

    BTW,really like the new layout...keep fightin'the GoodFight Brother,GoodLuckGodBless...

  6. I have been reloading for over 20 years. I always reload more than I shoot. I shoot alot. So as you can guess I have one hell of a supply. How much is enough? I say all I have and what I can make.

    God bless

    See Ya

  7. Good post, just one question, when do you have too much ammo? As one person mentioned practice is where this gets sticky. You need to set a "reserve" line, a "break glass in case of war" level you won't go below. The good news is that at least some of the prices are starting to come down a little. Like I said yesterday, the new design is nice.

  8. Well I've got near 10,000 rounds of various types, from .22lr to 12 guage, and I don't think it's enough. I too am stocking for a multigenerational SHTF... Good point on the .22lr, once and done. No reloading possible. You just moved it up on my prep list....

  9. You make a good point by touching on proportion. Having empty cupboards and a dozen cases of center fire ammo doesn't make sense. Conversely if you have food for 5 years and just a couple boxes of various ammo lying around you are probably doing things wrong.

    You can't have too much ammo but you can over allocate resources (namely money) towards ammo.

    Personally I think it is prudent to have at least a couple cases of ammo for your primary rifle, a case each for the pistol and shotgun and several thousand rounds of .22. Ideally you would have the same amount for secondary, alternate and contingency sets of firearms as well as duplicates. In reality for someone with a decent sized gun collection it is probably reasonable to have a bit lower ratio of rounds/ firearm for less practical firearms, heirlooms and such.

    I would take care of enough ammo for you to be reasonably comfortable (whatever that is) before looking to make significant purchases of gold or silver.

    For TEOTWAWKI bartering common caliber ammo would probably be King with various other stuff and silver (90% and one ounce rounds) rounding out the top. One advantage of PM's is that they can not be used against you. Well I guess 30 dollars face in dimes tied in a tube sock would really hurt but you get my point. This might be a good characteristic for buying that much needed solar panel or whatever from the sketchy bikers from the compound up in the hills. Though I am sure trading .22 shells to Farmer Brown for some chickens will work well for everyone.

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