Frugal Prepping: How to Get Cheap and Reliable Ammo For SHTF

James Walton
By James Walton December 14, 2017 09:23

Frugal Prepping: How to Get Cheap and Reliable Ammo For SHTF

In the Old West, it was said that a single .45 cartridge and 1.5 fluid ounces of whiskey each cost .12 cents. The whiskey was poured into a tiny glass that would become known as the “shot” glass because of its equivalent value to the .45 caliber cartridge.

Now, I have a read just as much about that story not being true as to the contrary. If someone asks me about the shot glass, they are getting the above explanation. Its just a great tale and a reminder of the value in ammunition.

No matter what situation brings us to the brink it is likely that we will need protection and barter. While silver, seeds and gold are great options, ammunition may be equal or even rival the value of those items. As preppers we must consider bulk ammo as part of our preps.

As Americans buy guns and ammo at a feverish pace the demand is causing prices to spike. Even .22LR ammunition has gone up 2, sometimes, 3-fold in price!

Where do you find cheap and reliable ammo for a SHTF scenario?

Why You Want Cheap and Reliable Ammo

I have three proven methods for finding cheap ammo but first I want to talk about how you can use your bulk ammo once you purchase it

Target Shooting and Practice

If you are a responsible gun owner, I am sure you want to be proficient with your weapon. What good is having a collection of guns if you cannot use them without losing an appendage? In a SHTF scenario you will want to have a solid base of training.

You will be tired, hungry, scared and it will all affect your shooting. Use that ammo to practice today so you are prepared for tomorrow.


While we are not in a full fledged SHTF scenario, yet, there are still very real threats. We have seen people mowed down and shot in our own nation. We have seen the evil delivered into our houses of worship.

There is but one way to be sure you are protected and that is to carry a weapon.

Related: What Should You Do in Case of a Terrorist Attack?


storing_ammo_Frugal Prepping How to Get Cheap and Reliable Ammo For SHTFIf for nothing else, you can use ammo as one of the best items to barter in a collapsed world. While gold and silver hold weight in today’s markets, ammo will become incredibly valuable when you become the sole protector of your family.

When the rule of the gun becomes law, ammo will be precious. If you are buying and storing extra, it is just like stacking silver!  Right now .22lr is going for about .04 cents a round if you buy in bulk. Silver coins are going for about $17 each right now. You do the math!

Gun Forums

Quality gun forums and bidding sites can be highly effective for getting your hands on cheap ammo. These sights most often have a bidding setup with a time limit. Ammo may be out for bid over a 3-day span and you will bid against others to get the best price for the ammo.

When dealing with sites like these you want to make sure you have some reputable sources. Some sites have a better community of buyers and sellers while others can just be out to make the most money on their sale. My favorite location for this type of sale right now is

Buying in Bulk

Another great way to get cheap and reliable ammo is to buy in bulk. This is the most effective way to assure your price. There is no bidding in the world of bulk purchase, but you must have the money to make it happen.

If you are short on cash an effective way to take advantage of bulk pricing is through group purchasing. I am sure you know a handful of people who shoot, hunt, prep or own guns. Let them know about the cost savings and buy bulk ammo to redistribute. While you may not wind up with 1000 rounds of your own, you will still have saved money.

Ammo Grab and Freedom Munitions are two great sites for getting your hands on bulk ammunition.

Related: How And Where To Store Ammo


Another wonderful way to get cheap and reliable ammo for when the SHTF is to trade. We mentioned the importance of having ammo to barter with and its value. Well, right now that value is not as high as it will be. You can trade gear, junk guns and other items for ammunition.

Seek out traders in online classifieds like craigslist. You can also meet traders at gun ranges, gun shows, or you might even inquire with friends about an ammo trade.

Trading calibers is a great way to go as well. If you already have a decent stockpile of 9mm you may be able to trade that with someone who has .223 that you are looking for.

Be careful of brand and quality when you are dealing with strangers. Make a small trade first.

Don’t Forget Shipping

While you are seeking out the best price for your cheap and reliable ammunition you must also keep in mind the cost of shipping. While some sites may offer you a great price you may be getting raked over the coals when it comes to shipping.

Some sites will offer you free shipping after spending a certain amount of money on ammo. Others will offer up free shipping for a sign up. Pay attention to your shipping options so you don’t wind up losing your deal to shipping.

Quick Ammo Storing Tips

  • Avoid extreme heat
  • Keep our powder dry in a low humidity environment
  • Keep your ammo safe, under lock and key
  • Label and rotate your ammo for use

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James Walton
By James Walton December 14, 2017 09:23
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  1. Joe December 14, 13:42

    I vaccum seal my ammo using a food saver just like I do with food.

    Reply to this comment
    • bobbo December 14, 23:50

      getting me a food saver as well. they are excellent , stored a muzzeloader in vac bag for many years, everyone of my buddies use them but they all live over 90 miles away now days cause i moved up north… lmao !

      Reply to this comment
  2. Wannabe December 14, 14:25

    Okay, want cheap ammo? Reload your own. Cast your own bullets. Get some reloading equipment. Store up powder, lead, go to shooting ranges and pick up the brass, ask family and friends to collect the brass after they shoot, stock up on primers. You can even reuse spent primers believe it or not. Don’t depend solely on manufactured ammo from big companies. When people get scared ammo goes first but reloading supplies are almost always on the shelves with exception of powder and primers so get those when you can. I can’t stress the need for prepper to have reloading supplies and knowledge. When people were scrounging for bullets after Obama became president there were no worries because reloading is always reliable. Get several manuals on reloading because they will give you different recipes to follow for all kinds of powder. You can even get on powder websites and print out their latest on loads for free. It’s great fun and great peace of mind.

    Reply to this comment
    • wa2qcj December 15, 03:12

      You are absolutely right. Same method I use. I also do belong to a gun club and have bought brass from other members who either do not reload, or have more than they feel they need. The biggest issue with reloading is the number of times a case can be used. About 5 times has been my experience. Don’t toss it though, it can be reused for other things. When the SHTF metals are going to get expensive. People will want that old brass for other uses once it is not able to be used for reloading. A point for reloading, others may want your ability and ask you to reload for them. If no one minds I have a request, information on finding bullets for 8 mm Mauser. I have brass, and die set, just need bullets. Another need is 7.62×39 mm brass. Search the nickname, it will lead you to me.

      Reply to this comment
    • Sky April 22, 16:34

      I’ve been reloading for years now. This is how I’ve been able to store thousands of rounds. Making my own bullets using wheel weights. I can reload a thousand rounds for only $50.

      Reply to this comment
  3. kettlekrik December 14, 18:31

    I have been loading my own ammo for 55 years. The key to long term storage of components it low humidity,low temperature.All my stuff is kept below 50′ and 17% humidity. Keep powder cans sealed tight at all times and primers in sealed containers. I just finished up some powder and primers purchased during the 1st Clinton term! Do not overlook yard sales, Public Auctions and estate sales as potential lead mines. If it’s cheap, buy everything. sooner or later you will find someone to trade with. Be careful how you store loaded ammo. US MIL ammo cans are great. Except that a 50 cal can will hold more rounds than most women and kids can tote up the cellar steps. Best to 30 cal cans. Do Not get the bug to start loading a given cartridge to maximum loads. I have multiple guns in several different calibers and they all will digest moderate loads with acceptable accuracy. Lyman loading manuals will give you factory duplication loads. As soon as you start upping the powder charge they start getting different points of impact.

    Reply to this comment
  4. left coast chuck December 14, 21:12

    I agree wholeheartedly with kettlekrik about medium loads. This is especially true with semiautomatic weapons. I was at our local range and one of the young shooters was experiencing jams with his AR type rifle. His comment to his companion was, “These should really work as they are loaded to the maximum.”

    What he didn’t realize is that all automatic and semi-automatic firearms are timed. Each sequence has to occur at a particular time and speed. If your bolt comes back to slow, it will fail to pick up a round or fail to force it into the chamber. If it comes back too fast, it will fail to pick up a round or fail to force it into the chamber. It is designed to operate with a certain type of ammunition loaded to a certain number of psi when it is fired which makes all the machinery operate at the correct speed.

    You can load up a revolver to maximum. You can load up a bolt action to maximum. You can load up most single shots to maximum but you really need to pay attention to the loading manual when you are loading for semi-automatics.

    A further caveat in favor of medium loads is that the hotter the load, the more stress it puts on the metal parts. It increases wear even in revolvers and bolt action rifles. In an end of the world scenario, finding a gunsmith may prove difficult and finding replacement parts may prove even more difficult. Moderation in all things, even in reloading your favorite caliber will make your firearm last longer.

    Reply to this comment
    • wa2qcj December 15, 03:16

      The issues you bring up, to much or to little force comes under the heading of “read the book”, added with “more is not better”. For those who want a major bang when they pull the trigger might want to consider getting a replica cannon.

      Reply to this comment
    • vocalpatriot December 31, 12:51

      lefty, you really don’t know what you are talking about, do you?
      Timed, really?

      Reply to this comment
      • Tex August 21, 16:20

        Yes, vocalpatriot, Lefty DOES know what he’s talking about. The example of timing and an AR platform seems a little clumsy to me but revolvers can oftentimes need to be timed especially if they have been subjected to wear due to high pressure loads. The timing problem occurs when a chamber does not line up with the forcing cone causing the gun to “spit” lead. That gun needs to go to a good ‘smith who knows revolvers. No charge for the lesson.

        Reply to this comment
      • Torn March 19, 01:43

        Sorry but “timing” is a real thing, for semi-autos.If the bolt goes back too fast the cartridge sometimes will not be able to get picked up by the bolt, before it slams home.

        Reply to this comment
  5. bobbo December 14, 22:33

    best advice for sure, reloading is KING. do it…

    Reply to this comment
  6. Survived on my own December 14, 23:07

    What is extreme temps?? I unfortunately live in az and have some in the garage , garage temp in summer around 90 during the day? Opinions??? Tganks

    Reply to this comment
    • bobbo December 14, 23:27

      try using a shooting chrony to see if velocities are what they should be. i have stored smokeless, blackpowder and pyrodex the same way for years in my storage shed. and some rifle cartridges as well. hot to cold and humid and on a shelf, no ammo cans. didnt notice any obvious deterioration. but i have no chrony yet. dont know the actual velocities but ammo shot just fine no obvious powerloss i could see…good luck…

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 15, 01:09

      Go to That is the organization that sets specifications for ammunition production and chamber sizes, etc. They have a long article on storing ammunition. It is too long to quote here. If you are worried about temperature, and it might be a problem in AZ in the summer, store your ammo in a styrofoam cooler. They are cheap and they do work. I keep my emergency water stored in a styrofoam cooler in my car and no matter how hot the interior of the car gets during the day here in SoCal the water is always cool to the touch and taste, so it might be warm but less than 98.6 or whatever temperature I am running at that day. That is well within the SAAMI specs for ammo storage. Read the SAAMI article

      Reply to this comment
      • vocalpatriot December 31, 12:56

        A cooler!?
        What good is that over the summer in phoenix?
        You’re about as dumb as the Minnesotan who covers his car hood with a blanket to keep the engine warm over -20F.
        Yeah, it does not work like you think, there chucky.

        Reply to this comment
        • Tex August 21, 16:27

          You know……being a know-it-all smart ass, like you, can really be entertaining for the rest of us. You seem to be a person who sees nothing but negativity and that usually means your either, 1) very insecure, or 2) a person who has numerous personality issues from being fed by your folks with a slingshot, or 3) you’re simply a big mouthed, ignorant fool. Please keep posting!!!!

          Reply to this comment
    • Kettlekrik December 15, 04:03

      To survived on my own: Temperature fluctuations and especially hi temps have a greater impact on stored powder than loaded rounds. A fellow re-loader stored his powder on an upper shelf in his garage that saw probably saw 100′ in the summer. At 2 years old the powder experienced an 8% weight loss at a given volume compared to new powder of the same # and manufacturer. And a subsequent velocity loss. Simply the temp of a cartridge can effect accuracy and point of impact. Go to the range on a cold day. Fire a 3 round group with cartridges you had in the trunk of the car. Then fire a 3 round group with 3 cartridges you had on the floor in front of the heater on the way there. You will be amazed! I am still astounded by novice hand loaders who develop a hot load for their rifle at 80′ in the summer and can’t figure out why they can’t keep a group in Dec at 25′. The closer you get to maximum loads the more extreme this problem gets. Just another reason for moderation.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck December 15, 04:59

        That’s why some powders are now being marketed as being less sensitive to temperature extremes that earlier powders. They still are sensitive but not as much. Form the little I know, the powder manufacturers have added additional coatings to the powder that reduce its temperature sensitivity. But not all powders have been reformulated. When all else fails, read the instructions.

        Reply to this comment
  7. Red Ant klan December 17, 16:28

    Well i dout that i will get the chance to ever get the deal of a life time. Walked in to wal mart and found that they were clearing out there ammo. New packaging i guess. Did not matter to me what it looked like in the box. There was boxes of it so i went and got as much as i could buy. Got 200 rounds for 1. To 2 dollars a box. Went to 3 wal mart and score. Never again i am sure. Still have them. Now this was about 6 or 7 yrs ago. I think. Just look ever where. Just had to brag… sorry, still happy about it.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Josey Wales March 18, 21:22

    Vocalpatriot should listen more and be less vocal. Maybe a name change to listenpatriot would do much better for you. Lastly, don’t disrespect “Lefty” !!!

    Reply to this comment
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