Saturday, August 30, 2014

How Much Ammo Is Enough?

I was discussing how many guns you really need and Tpals asked for my thoughts on ammo. Also today I saw Peter of Bayou Renaissance Man's thoughts on How Much Ammo Is Enough today. Peters thinking certainly has merit. Take it for what it is worth.

I discussed that matter about 4 years back and again about a year ago.

To briefly recap my thoughts. The kind of scenario you are worried about matters a lot here.  Normal everyday defensive stuff just doesn't require a lot of ammo. If you live on a ranch out by the Mexican border and genuinely might end up in a running gun fight with a bunch of drug runners or could get caught in a Hurricane [While not part of our current topic Peters posts on Katrina and Rita as well as Gustav are definitely worth reading. Learn from others so you can avoid the pitfalls of their mistakes.] or a serious riot more ammo would make sense. If you are worried about progressively darker scenarios add ammo (and of course other supplies) as appropriate.
A big part of how much ammo is enough for you is WHAT MAKES YOU PERSONALLY COMFORTABLE. One could say this about preparedness as a whole. Anyway moving on.

Personally I am very comfortable with:
Defensive rifle- 3,000 rounds
Defensive pistol- 1,000 rounds
Shotgun- 1,000 rounds mixed between buckshot, slugs, small game shot like #4 and birdshot
.22lr- 5,000 rounds
Hunting rifle- 1,000 rounds/ 500 rounds*

Wish I could say these numbers were the product of painstaking analysis based on the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as riots, disasters and other events. However that is not the case. Somewhere between my various experiences and an affinity for nice even numbers I decided that the above listed numbers make sense for me. they may or may not work well for you.

* When I posted this a few years ago hunting rifle ammo was a topic of discussion. Anyway when relooking the ammo counts I came up with years ago I generally agreed with them all but the hunting ammo was worth revisiting. With 30-30 at 80 cents to a dollar a round for SP type hunting ammo, .308 FMJ (brass cased) around 90 cents; Federal 150gr SP hunting ammo at a bit over a buck and 30'06 about the same as .308 cost is definitely a consideration here.

Especially since actual harvesting of big game does not require a lot of rounds I can see the sentiment. On this subject Pastor Joe Fox mentioned that the year before writing The Survivalist Family he fired 6 shots, 3 to confirm zero and 1 each for the three deer he killed. Our longtime friend Chris's math figured pessimistically more like a box to zero and more for hunting to total 40 rounds a year.

My specific concern here is for folks who have a hunting rifle as their only centerfire rifle. Guys for whom the '06 or whatever deer rifle is their only real rifle.  The logic of 'I hunt on 20 rounds a year so 3x20 is 3 years of ammo' works sorta OK if the deer rifle is behind an AR/ AK in the safe but it doesn't work if that is the rifle you grab to get into a fight.

If folks have a defensive rifle with a decent stock of ammo and want to keep a bit less ammo for their hunting rifle I wouldn't argue against it. Also I would want to make sure they are not relying on that rifle for long range/ precision as part of a core defensive plan to hold say a long winding road going into a canyon or whatever. If those two conditions are both met less ammo seems just fine. I think 500 rounds seems pretty reasonable to me.  Anyway moving on.

The goals I laid out are not as ambitious as some but more than others. I think that for most folks given some planning they can be met within a reasonable time frame. Also they are generally high enough that if you are most of the way there the situation is pretty decent still. I generally try to set goals that are realistically attainable but aggressive enough that if you fall a bit low you're still in a good spot.

Honestly for all but the darkest scenarios half of what I like would likely be fine. If landed into the LA Riots (aside from that I wasn't shaving yet;) or Hurricane Katrina say visiting a friend or whatever with half of my goals; say an AK with a case and a half of Tuna 7.62x39 JHP, a Glock 9mm with 500 rounds of 9mm 115gr JHP, a shotgun with 500 rounds of ammo and a .22 with 2,500 I would be fine. Whatever issues I had they would not be ammo related.

I should note these counts are for core type weapons. I'm not saying you need to go this deep for every gun that you own. Like many folks maybe you happen to have an oddball (common caliber or otherwise but doesn't fit your plans) like the .38 S&W revolver Grandpa passed down, a .22-250 you shot Coyotes with for awhile or whatever. What it is smart/ necessary to do for that gun depends on how deep you are in core type weapons and ammo. If you have four AR's with a deep stash of ammo and a pair of .308 hunting rifles with a case of ammo between em you can go light on the heirloom/ oddball in the safe. On the other hand if you are a bit lighter on guns then everything matters.

Of course next is the guns overall viability. Say a little heirloom Browning knock off .25 that hasn't been fired since political candidates wore hats is worth a spare mag and a box of ammo while a more viable weapon like a .303 Enfield or .30 Carbine a relative brought back from the big one it would be smart to stash at least a couple hundred rounds.

I should note these counts have some margin for barter/ charity as well as sighting in optics, periodic test fires, etc but do not specifically include training. I keep a bit of ammo above that for training.

Think that pretty much overs my thoughts on ammo. 

Suppose I should touch on mags.

I like 20 per fighting rifle, and 10 per fighting pistol. As to pocket pistols, hunting rifles, rimfire, etc 4-6 seems sufficient. In this context I am more concerned about replacing a mag that wears out than fighting reloads.

Anyway I think that covers my thoughts on ammo and mags. Am interested in hearing the numbers for mags and ammo that make you happy and probably more interestingly the thinking behind it.


The Displaced Louisiana Guy said...

Got me thinking... I put up my own post about it.

riverrider said...

i agree if its me against the world, a few hundred to 1k per caliber is more than enough to last until my luck runs out in a shootout. i however stock quite a bit more as well as extra guns in the same calibers. why? my hood is populated by a lot of former service men that for whatever reason don't see the need to stock up on ammo or guns except for hunting. i aim to be able to equip an 11 man squad and a heavy weapons section. at my age i'll be the log rep/trainer instead of the gman.

Prairie Patriot said...

Ah, the REAL how much is enough question. :)

I look at my ammo requirements as units of training sessions, or, in harsh times, as loadouts on my various rigs.

For example, I practice pistol one to two times a month when I can. That is about 200 rounds max a month. I try to train on a consistent basis year round and having a year's worth of ammo at any given time is where my comfort level is at. So, for training pistol, I want to float around 2400 rounds at any one time (give or take 500 rounds before buying more).

I apply this idea to ammo that I carry or may use in a defensive scenario. Instead of training sessions, I think of it in terms of "per loadout". So, for example, I carry my 9c plus a reload for EDC. That's 25 rounds per loadout without reloading magazines administratively i.e. post engagement. The chances of me being accosted are fairly slim so I don't keep a lot of defensive pistol ammo on hand. I run my inventory of EDC pistol ammo at around 250 rounds and shoot some of it up every few months after I have secured more of it. This ensures fresh ammo because riding on my hip every day in humidity and less than ideal conditions with time could affect the reliability of ignition.

For a SHTF scenario, I want to have at least 3 loadouts worth of ammunition for my rifle and pistol. This means with my heavy loadout that I will be running 11 rifle mags plus 3 pistol mags.

So, while I have hard numbers for acceptable minimum ammo levels, there is a method to the madness with the only real variable being comfort level (as you mentioned in your post).

All that being said, if my other preparedness and financial goals are at acceptable levels, then I certainly try to run by the old adage, "Buy it cheap and stack it deep."

Anonymous said...

And we're just concluding a "two-year study" on how ammo acts a lot like precious metal bullion in a crisis (real or imagined).

Like a lot of folks, most of what I have (ammo) won't be for personal use. It'll be our hedge against the crisis.


Pineslayer said...

I lean towards RR's idea. I would like to be able to support the younger crowd in the future. I ain't getting any younger. If other bases are covered stockpiling beans, bullets, and band aids would be a prudent retirement program.

Chris said...

The best thing about having a healthy ammo stash is that I haven't had to worry too much about "where will I find my next crazy priced box!" during the recent panic. I've had more ammo in the garage then spare time to shoot it all. Which is a nice feeling.

That said for "practical" loads my formulas have settled at:
- Self Defense Load (2 mags) x 3
- Patrol Load (7 mags) x 3

Plus maybe a mag for zeroing, fam fire, etc. I figure one set of ammo in the LBE, one set of ammo in the vehicle or a cache, and one set of ammo in cans at home. I'll try to stock all of this as "match," defensive, or working ammo. Luckily with the AR, good 'ol M193 ball works pretty darn well, so I stock that deep except for the SBR/SPR which get to eat pricier MK262 on a more regular basis. As for pistols a few boxes of premium defensive ammo should get you to 2x3 mags pretty quick.

That's my "break glass in case of Red Alert, do not drop below" stash.

Otherwise I have liked having a two-ish year supply of ammo on hand to wait out supply disruptions. If you figure you shoot a high power match once a month (50 x 12), take a class once a year (400), and maybe burn through a few other mags here and there then that is 1-2K/year.

If you shoot a lot more, have more on hand. If you shoot less, you need less on hand.

I did not have to freak out too much during the recent panic; while I did pick up some deals on the internet the stash stayed well stocked without having to worry about dipping into the "red alert" stash.

Sounds like Prarie Patriot and I are on the same page.

Caryl Anne said...

Great post! I agree that the amount of ammo you have or stock is normally based on your comfort zone and beliefs. Some people believe in huge stock piles so that they are prepared for any situation, such as defense and practice. Some feel as though they need just enough for protection, and others stock up only for practice. It truly depends on the person, their beliefs, and comfort zones. Thanks for sharing!

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