How Much Ammo is Enough?

ammo shortageDeciding how much to stockpile is one of those questions that preppers never stop asking. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a group of preppers who gets together, a forum on the Internet or just a couple sitting over their coffee, making their own decisions. The question of “How much is enough?” is one that you can count on hearing. The thing is, there’s really no right answer.

Many people have taken a stab at that issue, generally imposing some arbitrary number, based on what they think is more than enough. I guess if you’re not concerned about how much your preps cost, that makes sense. But if you’re on a budget, like most of us are, that’s a problem.

Take ammunition for example. There are two stock answers out there. The first is 10,000 rounds and the second is 1,000 rounds per firearm. While those sound good, are they really realistic? For that matter, why would anyone think they are going to need the same number of rounds of ammunition for every firearm they have? Don’t we use those guns differently?

Even a differentiation between rifles and pistols would make sense. After all, as one self-defense instructor put it, the purpose of a pistol is to give you something to defend yourself with, while you’re making your way to your rifle. If that’s all its for, then you’d obviously need more ammo for your rifle, than you would for your pistol. Besides, who wants to try hunting with a pistol anyway?

Let’s take a logical look at this and see if we can make some sense of the subject. First of all, besides practice shooting, which really isn’t part of your survival stockpile, the only reasons you would be shooting a firearm in a survival situation are:

  • Self-defense
  • Hunting

So, what we need to do, is figure out how much ammo we need for those two purposes. Let’s start with self-defense.

I’m going to make an assumption here, that is that your main survival long gun is an AR-15. I’m doing that mostly because it’s the most popular option out there. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only option or that you have to buy an AR-15. You have to decide what will work best for you and buy accordingly. That means you’ll have to adapt what I’m going to say.

About the worst case scenario for self-defense in a survival situation is defending our homes from a hungry mob. So, since neither you or I have faced that yet, we need some expert advice. For that, I’ve decided to go to the U.S. Army.

An infantry soldier carries a basic load of ammunition that consists of 210 rounds of ammo for their rifle; one in their rifle and six in ammo pouches. For those that carry a pistol, the basic load is three magazines worth; one in the pistol and two in an ammo pouch. That’s supposed to be enough ammo to see them through a day’s worth of fighting.

I seriously doubt that any of us are going to find ourselves caught in a firefight that’s more serious than actual combat. So, a basic load of 210 rounds sounds like enough to me, for any fighting I’m going to have to do. To play it safe, I’m going to double that, under the assumption that I’ll have two different fights like that. If I manage to survive two firefights that are that intense, that will be a miracle and I won’t need ammo, as I’ll obviously be invincible.

So, based on that, I’d say that 420 rounds of rifle ammo and 102 rounds of pistol ammo (3 x 21 round magazines for a Glock 9mm) should be enough ammo for any of us, for purely self-defense.

About the only exception to that I can conjure up is if you have a fully-automatic assault rifle and are planning on shooting on full auto. In that case, you will probably spend the rest of your life in jail for murder, so I really wouldn’t recommend it.

Now we move on to hunting. That’s actually a lot harder to determine. The problem isn’t that you need a lot of ammo to hunt, you really shouldn’t need more than a couple of rounds each time you go. The big question is how many times you’ll need to go hunting; and that depends on how long you have to survive.

Furthermore, we need to break hunting down between big game, small game and fowl. Each requires different firearms and different types of ammunition. You don’t want to go hunting for rabbits with a .308 and you don’t want to go hunting for a deer with a .22.

Let’s figure that you’re going to go small game hunting every day (you probably won’t) and that you’re going to miss 2/3 of your shots (I hope you do better than that). That works out to 1095 rounds of .22 ammo per year. If you figure that the worst-case scenario you’ll face in your life will take two years for society to be fully restored, then 2190 rounds of .22 should be plenty.

Now let’s do the same for big game, with the exception that you’re only going to go hunting once per week. After all, a deer or wild pig will keep you eating for several days, especially if you preserve the meat properly. Once again, we’re going to assume 2/3 of your shots are misses, so you’ll use up 156 rounds of ammo per year, or 312 round during the two year recovery period that we’re talking about.

Those numbers are still pretty high, but they’re a whole lot more reasonable than an arbitrary 10,000 rounds of ammo or 1,000 rounds per gun. The only one that tops that 1,000 round figure is the .22 ammo. But since .22 ammo is cheap, that’s not all that big a deal.

Basing your stockpile on a reasonable calculation, like this, should save you a bundle of money; especially when you consider the high cost of ammo. Unless something grave enough happened that it made it impossible to restore society and the infrastructure we depend upon, this should be enough. If it is so bad that things never get restored, might I recommend that you buy yourself a bow?

Actually, the bow is not a bad idea anyway; at least as a backup. So, until we meet again, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

PS: Have you see the ghost gun system yet?


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