How Much Ammo Should You Stock Pile?

Pat Bellew
By Pat Bellew April 21, 2016 11:54

How Much Ammo Should You Stock Pile?

In prepping, “How much?” is always a good question. Often times the answer is a bit ambiguous and it boils down to two key factors; how much can you spend, and how much room do you have for storage. Obviously, most of us have constraints in both those areas, or the question would never come up in the first place!

Ammo, although certainly not the most important preparedness commodity, is definitely on the list and worthy of consideration. The simple answer to the question of how much ammo should you stock is “As much as you can!” But, sadly, we have to consider the financial and the special aspects of that and balance these with our other preps and the fact that it’s kind of nice to have a normal(ish) life in these pre-collapse days.

My first important point is that your weapons and ammo supply are not your priorities until you have something to defend.

If the primary focus of your preparedness is guns and ammo, you are not going to be a survivor, you are going to be a looter or a Brigand, These are not noble goals, so it is important to have the attitude that the primary role of your weapons, pre or post collapse, is in hunting and defense. Defense using deadly force is an extreme measure, not to be taken lightly at any time, taking human life should always be a very last resort. That having been said, it is not out of the question, and sadly the odds that you will be put in that situation increase dramatically in chaotic times. So, being prepared for the possibility is prudent.

Beware: Ex Military Soldier’s Survival Plan Is “To Hit Preppers”

Taurus PT 92sIn both the hunting and the defense categories, it is best to have as much caliber compatibility as possible between weapons, thereby minimizing the number of different calibers of ammunition you will have to stock. It is perfectly acceptable to have guns around that are there for no other reason than that you like them, but it is important to have a set of core calibers that you are going to stock quantities of ammo for. Therefore, all the primary defensive handguns in a group should be of a common caliber and preferably use the same magazines, and likewise for primary defensive rifles and shot guns. In my home, we have settled on 9mm handguns (Taurus PT 92s), 7.62 x 39 (AKs) rifles, and the 12 gauge shotgun (Mossbergs and Mavericks).

Hunting

Let’s take a look at hunting ammunition first. For hunting, the best thought is to have 2 calibers and one gauge.

Beginning with the gauge, you should pick your favorite shotgun for small game and fowl. I personally prefer the 12 gauge. I like the power and range it provides, the wide variety of loads, the availability of ammo, and the cost of ammo. I purchase field loads by the hundred for a bit over 20 bucks, at this cost it is relatively inexpensive to have 500 to a thousand rounds on hand which is a good number to start at. 1000 rounds of 12 ga. is a lot of rabbits, squirrels and quail on the table. In addition to field loads, you should stock some heavier shells as well, for waterfowl, turkey, and the like. For this I favor magnum turkey loads with number four shot (this is also one of my favorite rounds for the shotgun I keep loaded and handy at all times, for defense against intruders as well as late night visits from 4 legged raiders), and it is a good idea to keep a minimum of 200-300 rounds of this ammo available. You can do the same with a 20 ga. for a similar cost if you prefer the lighter recoil or if you have smaller shooters.

The .22 Long Rifle

.22 Long RifleThe next work horse in your hunting arsenal is the .22 Long Rifle. This is an all around great small game caliber, and even has some utility as a defensive weapon in a pinch. >22 isn’t as cheap or as easy to find as it was just a few short years ago, but you can still find 500 round bricks available for 50 bucks or so if you keep your eyes open. Grab a brick or two when you see them and have a little spare cash, or build your stock slowly with 50 round boxes. You should be able to get several thousand rounds together in a short time, at a cost which doesn’t crash the budget. .22 has the added advantage of being incredibly compact; you can store a whole lot in a small space. I recommend having both long guns and handguns in .22 Long Rifle, and getting together as much ammo for them as you can, make 4000 rounds your minimum goal.

Related: Homemade .22 Cal Steampunk Gatling Gun

Big Game Rifle

The final hunting caliber is your large game rifle. In my area, our biggest critter is the white Tail Deer. My preference has always been the 30-30, but that’s a personal choice. Another round I have adopted recently is the .45 Colt, I have a lever gun and a revolver chambered in this caliber. At short range it is more than capable of dumping a deer, and I have the added bonus of being able to use the common ammo in both the rifle and a defensive handgun (this can be done with other calibers as well, such as the .357 and .44 magnums). Just be certain that the rifle you choose has enough power to take down cleanly the largest game you are likely to encounter in your area. For your big game rifle, target 300-400 rounds stocked, which is plenty for many years of hunting.

Defensive Weapons

hunting-knifeDefensive weapons should have a much larger supply of ammo.

Reason being is that you can burn a lot more powder in a 10 minute fire fight than you can in 10 years of hunting.

Ideally, this stock of ammo will do nothing but sit there, forever, and only be used for practice. But, you don’t want to get caught up short if the need arises, running out at a bad time can get you real dead real fast.

For defense, I also recommend a three pronged approach. Each member of your group should have a primary defensive rifle, a defensive hand gun, and a tactical shotgun.

Related: Some Thoughts on Defensive Rifles for Preppers that are New to Firearms

For the shotgun I again prefer the 12 gauge. Stock at least 500 rounds of a mix of defensive rounds, 00 buck, slugs, and any other defensive rounds you like. I go heavy on the magnum turkey loads, they are good at close quarters and can be used in hunting as well, and they are less expensive than many Tactical loads.

7.62 x 39 (AKs) riflesFor your primary handgun, you should keep on hand at least 1000 rounds of defensive loads, Your best bets are 9mm, .45 ACP, or .40 SW. these are very common, which increases the likelihood that you might be able to get more ammo post collapse. Have plenty of spare magazines as well.

For your primary rifle, 2000 rounds is a bare minimum. You burn ammo fast firing from a semi automatic rifle with a 30 round magazine. Be aware of that fact. If you find yourself in a position to be firing in self defense you are going to burn some ammo! Here again, lots of magazines! There is no such thing as an “extra Magazine” in a life and death situation. For rifles, your best bets are the AK 47 in 7.62 x 39, or the AR in 5.56. these are good bets because they are very common, and the ammo is readily available and reasonably affordable. If you can find soft point and hollow point rounds it is a good idea to include then in your stock pile.

Related: Concealed Carry – Why Do You Need One

So, in Summary:

Hunting ammo should include (a minimum) of 1000 rounds of assorted hunting loads for your shotgun, 400 rounds for your big game rifle, and 4000 rounds of .22 Long Rifle.

Defensive ammo should include (a minimum) of 500 rounds of defensive ammo for your tactical shotgun, 1000 rounds for your handgun, and 2000 rounds for your rifle. For the rifle and pistol also have a good supply of magazines.

Once again, these stocks are targets for a minimum supply. There is no such thing as too much ammo! You don’t have to run out and get it all at once, do it as you can budget it and keep an eye out for sales! Even if you haven’t reached minimum goals, don’t despair! Any ammo is better than no ammo so start putting your supplies together at a comfortable pace that doesn’t exclude other preparedness measures.

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Pat Bellew
By Pat Bellew April 21, 2016 11:54
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42 Comments

  1. leftcoastchuck April 21, 21:42

    I’ve had a local cop tell me he has all the prep he needs as he patted his holstered sidearm. That was a very telling comment. It also fixed a plan of action in my mind.
    Sounded like New Orleans redoux.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mic April 21, 21:58

    Although the article may be correct in the numbers listed, there are some problems, like properly storing ammo or it will not remain useable, and the volume (and weight) of such ammo, as well as so many types of weapons.
    Assuming one might be forced to bug out, (even from your bug out location); How would one carry all this stock pile or survive without it?
    This ‘plan’ is a very dangerous one. Over reliance on one weapon type (guns) is a very bad mistake.
    Try adding a bow or cross bow for hunting. This creates less noise, attracts less attention and requires no expendable ammunition. It also means less weapons and less weight and storage problems.
    There are even sling shots that adapted for hunting small game or fishing, using arrows.
    One might also consider using snares for small game rather than a .22 rifle and pistol and all that ammo.This could also reduce number and volume of hunting loads needed for the shotgun.
    Never, ever rely on only one type of anything, either to protect you or provide “food” for yourself. A diversity of skills and weapons is what you need to survive.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Red April 21, 22:01

    This is rediculous nonsense. How long will you fight whom? Are you firing a fully automatic rifle? I didn’t carry this much ammo in Vietnam and in two years I never used that much….Bad guys don’t have that much….If you are expecting this much combat you will be fighting professional military forces and if so you are already dead………

    Reply to this comment
    • vandenberg April 21, 23:50

      Red, YOU may not use that much ammunition, but what about your neighbor if he runs out? What about the guy that is covering your 6:00 o’clock? What about the use of ammunition as an item of barter? I don’t know if you can use your Vietnam experience as a bar that won’t be raised. Who knows what the “bad” guys will have or be doing in our future possible situation. To say that you will be dead if you will be fighting a professional military force, the Minutemen of 1776 might as well have stayed home and not worried about the British invasion. They certainly were not professionals and the Continental army always needed their support. Is the glass half full or half empty?

      Reply to this comment
    • Crrrock April 22, 01:33

      Red, maybe being a cook in Vietnam doesn’t count 🙁 Just sayin’.

      Reply to this comment
    • Rocket man April 22, 01:34

      You are not entirely correct. You are right about if you are fighting the millitary but wrong about bad guys. If the SHTF you might be fighting organised thugs looking to kill others and take what ever they have and inthat case they will have lots of ammo!

      Reply to this comment
    • Procius June 18, 05:17

      Did you ever stop to think that some of us may have been ‘professional military forces’ and can pretty well predict what the enemy will do and how he will do it thru training and force of habit. And by the way you are never already dead until you are dead

      Reply to this comment
  4. 3rdID8487 April 22, 12:16

    Also if you are looking to be as cost effective as you can be, and at the same time, get exactly the type of ammo you want, look into reloading your own ammo. I have reloaded ammo for years and have built up a nice stock pile of it. And I bought ammo cans that seal and protect the ammo from moisture and such, after throwing a silica pack or two in with it. Each rifle ammo can holds 400 rounds and each pistol holds 700. I store them in several locations so all of my stock is not in one basket as they say.. Just a suggestion. Also not a bad idea to get with your reliable partners in prepping (I have 2) and distribute your ammo at different bug out places.

    Reply to this comment
  5. john-atlanta April 22, 14:13

    FWIW: God’s written word states when SHTF civil war will break out the world over and when it is all said and done there will be one male left for every seven women.

    God’s written word states gangs in the cities go house to house taking what they want (goods and women) and very few grapes are left on the vine.

    That translates into a lot of ammo, so 2,000+ rounds is not an unlikely amount to go through in short order.

    The only ones that escape unharmed are those that flee to the “deep woods”. Would it not be a kicker the real reason our public lands are not public with 100s of millions of acres of “monuments” because of Progressives is because God provided a place to flee for Christians?

    When almost every male is killed is about the time Satan and fallen angels are thrown from heaven.

    So, if you survive by killing all your neighbors with 10,000 rounds of ammo, the only question remaining is exactly what weapon are you going to use against the fallen angels to prevent them from raping your women as they did in the day of “Noe” ?

    Reply to this comment
  6. dixierat April 30, 16:30

    You can also get a good quality air rifle in either .177 or .22 caliber for small game. I have a crossman with a muzzle velocity of ~1200 FPS. 500 rounds of pellets cost me about $7.00. Scoped air rifle is pretty effective out to about 75 yards.

    Reply to this comment
    • GLENMO November 15, 19:32

      Yes ..I have a .22 air gun ..Benjamin trail xp. 1000 fps. It has a nitogen piston instead of a spring …$230 at Wal-Mart. Or air guns .com ..professional scope included..very quiot.. Self d snipe. With it in a pinch also. Also have a crossbow “ten point brand Titan ” I lucked out & my buddy wanted to sell cheap to buy lighter crossbow ..I bought for $225. With all acc & 3 bolts & pro lit scope !!! Wow nice ..but many cheaper cross bows out there do a fine job ..

      Reply to this comment
  7. left coast chuck May 10, 05:16

    dixierat beat me to it. For small game there is nothing like a Crossman pump up .22 air rifle. It is silent and the air driven .22 will kill squirrels and rabbits. It will also take roosting pigeons and doves if you do your part. 5,000 rounds of .22 pellets is 10 round tins and will fit in the bellows pockets of your BDUs. A Ruger 10/22 is a good rifle as a backup to your .22 pump rifle. Right now I am looking into a larger caliber pre-charged air rifle. Lewis and Clark took one with them to wow the Indians and to hunt with. It did wow the Indians. L&C were careful never to shoot the rifle dry in the presence of the Indians. Always left them wondering just how many shots it was capable of.

    Reply to this comment
    • Duke June 11, 21:02

      Lewis and Clark took a Ruger 10-22? Any .22? That was almost three centuries ago. I hope you were being sarcastic and not ignorant.

      Reply to this comment
      • Lonnie G October 3, 14:39

        Lewis and Clark took an AIR RIFLE with them. Google it!

        Reply to this comment
      • CHwoodcraft November 7, 23:06

        It’s true, Lewis & Clark had a pump up air rifle that was evidently very rare to have at that time. As I understand, it was somewhat forgiving as to what it would shoot and as I think I recall, they could melt down spent rounds and just about anything else they could find to make new rounds.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck April 3, 21:00

          If you read about the L&C expedition, their black powder supplies were sealed in lead boxes. That surprised me, but the theory was that if the boats overturned, the box would immediately sink in its location. If it were wooden it might float downstream to who knows where. In addition, when the box was empty the box could then be melted down into balls for both the air rifle and for their black powder rifles and pistols. Rather clever. Instead of hauling lead balls, they stored the powder in the bullets so to speak. It also kept the powder completely dry during river navigation.

          Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck April 3, 21:07

        The sentence that precedes the L&C comment refers to the weapon that they took with them. “Right now I am looking into a larger caliber pre-charged air rifle.” L&C took a .45 or .50 caliber pre-charged, repeating air rifle with them on their expedition. I don’t remember how many shots it could fire before needing to be charged again and reloaded. I do remember that the technique L&C used was never to fully discharge the PCP air rifle in front of the Indians. It always left the Indians wondering, “Wow! How many shots does that thing hold, anyway?”

        Today one can purchase pre-charged air rifles up to, I believe, .50 caliber. I now for certain that .45 caliber PCP air rifles are currently available. You can also buy large caliber repeating air rifles. Large caliber PCP air rifles are not silent nor are they cheap but as long as you have lead you can shoot them.

        Reply to this comment
      • Rod April 7, 07:24

        Don’t be ignorant yourself, yes they did take an air rifle that was a repeater (not automatic).

        Reply to this comment
  8. Ray C January 14, 21:12

    Carrying around that much ammo is insane at the very least. .22lr is great for game upto and including deer, not that it will do you a lot of good unless you have much company.The .22lr will also get you a great rifle and much ammo that you have let someone else carry for you. I don’t think most people understand what they are going up against. Mother nature is your first obstacle, then the bad guys and then just staying alive. The later is going to be harder than most think, it won’t matter how prepared you are really, you are going to run out of stuff if you stay alive long enough to do so. knowledge is going to be what keeps most alive the longest.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck April 3, 21:13

      I once read an article about an old Cree Indian woman in Canada who regularly hunted deer and black bear with a broken stock .22 rifle. You know the old saying, “Beware the man with only one gun.” She knew how to use it, knew where it would shoot to and knew where to shoot the animal to bring it down. She just insured that she got close enough to hit exactly where it would drop the animal. You are right that knowledge and clear thinking is more important than gear.

      Reply to this comment
  9. Rod April 7, 07:32

    I have close to 10,000 rnds of .22, I have a number of .22 rifles and pistols. Love to shoot them. I have about 1000 rnds of .223 and 600rnds of 300BO. I recently got a case of 00 buckshot for my 12 gauge pumps. I reload so I have more that can be assembled just don’t have the storage room right now. Also have 1000 .22 pellets.

    Reply to this comment
  10. left coast chuck April 9, 23:39

    The saying in shooting circles is, “After a fire fight nobody ever said, “dang, I just had too much ammo'”

    Reply to this comment
  11. Lone wolf June 16, 13:50

    Where can I buy this multi caliber shot gun?

    Reply to this comment
  12. Meathead June 16, 15:30

    Many great points made in the article and the comments. The main two needs for ammo is hunting and defense. However, it is not just the caliber of the ammo, it is also the TYPE of ammo.
    For defense, there are incendiary rounds, explosive rounds, frangible rounds, armor piercing rounds, etc. Also, a tracer round every three rounds is a good load for an AK or an AR or even a .22 semi-automatic.
    A slide-fire stock on an AK or AR will allow it to put out 100 rounds in lest than nine seconds to “spray” a group of bad guys in a timely manner. It will also eat up a lot of ammo, so 10,000 rounds isn’t “too much” when it’s needed.

    Reply to this comment
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