How much ammo does a prepper need? For many people their fall back position is as much ammunition as they can afford. But this topic deserves some more in-depth discussion as ammunition might become a valuable commodity after TEOTWAWKI.
Let’s start off with noting that prepping is not necessarily about getting in a gun fight. Quite the contrary, if medical facilities/services are not readily available and if ammo is hard to come by – you have several reasons to avoid getting in a gun fight. Getting wounded means you are partially or fully incapacitated and are now a burden on your group or otherwise less capable of assisting the group in day to day survival tasks.
Expending scarce rounds means at some point, you are out of ammo. So in general, you should be looking to avoid fights if you can and conserve ammo when you must use your weapon. When ammo is plentiful, people sometimes expend rounds frivolously. Cover fire is never as effective as accurate fire. Shooting to make noise / hope that the other guy(s) will duck for cover is a wasteful practice and you may live to regret wasting ammunition. You should be training now to be a good shot, so you hit what you are aiming at. This goes for if you are hunting or fighting and even more so if you are not sure if and when you might be able to resupply bullets.
Let’s start with a Every Day Carry: assuming life is close to normal you may walk around with a concealed pistol and a few spare magazines.
- A small pistol like a Ruger LCP loaded with two spare magazines and one in pipe (19 rounds total) should weight about 1 pound
- A 9mm like a Glock 17 loaded with two spare mags + one in the pipe (52 rounds total) will weigh about 2 pounds
- A standard Colt .45 ACP like the M1911A1 loaded with two spare mags and one in the pipe (22 rounds) will weigh about 4 pounds.
The plan here would be you are forced to defend yourself but you expect the gun fight to be over quickly – either the threat is eliminated or you or your opponent withdraw.
Moving on to a rifle – while a soldier might carry one mag in the weapon and six extra magazines, there are very few situations where you would require more than one spare magazine.
- An M4 weighs nearly six pounds depending on the accessories you have put on it. Each loaded 30 round magazine weights roughly a pound. So a weapon and combat load can weight 13-15 pounds but with just one spare mag, is only around 8 pounds.
- Compare that with a loaded AK which weighs roughly 9 pounds and each 30 round magazine weighs nearly 2.75 pounds. A combat load with an AK is roughly 25 pounds. But with just one spare mag would be under 12 pounds.
- Or look at the MK 17 SCAR which fires a 7.62x51mm NATO round – fully loaded with six 20 round mags comes in at 20 pounds. Again with just one spare mag, just over 11 pounds.
My point here is ammo is heavy and what you might need “on patrol” is much less than you might keep in inventory. But you might keep a combat load (seven loaded mags) in your home since you won’t be lugging it around.
You certainly would want to have ammo stockpiled in case your can’t go out and buy more after TSHTF. Depending on how often you go to the range to train and your budget, you might keep 600 rounds of rifle ammunition on hand for each weapon and restock at 400 rounds. You don’t need as many pistol rounds for survival, probably only 150-250 rounds per weapon and restock at 50-150 rounds. Of course you should be looking for bargains when you buy ammo (check out sites like LuckyGunner, AmmoGrab, CheaperThanDirt, or AmmunitionDepot).
Remember you pistol is your close in self defense weapon while a rifle is for more penetration and longer ranges (both for self defense and hunting). But you might need some other weapons in your survival mix: Shotguns are great self defense weapons inside a building (such as your home) and they are also tailor made for hunting birds. Whether is is bird shot or buck shot or slug – you only need about 100-150 rounds of each type of shell you chose purchase.
A .22 LR Rimfire rifle can be a great weapon for hunting smaller game with the benefit of less sound (won’t give away your position) and light weight and affordable ammunition. A box of 5000 rounds is currently under $200. 5000 is a lot of squirrels or rabbits. Or you could go with an air rifle / pellet gun for your small game hunting. Again less noise and cheap ammo (but reduced range), you can get 1000 rounds for under $20. Plus it allows you to save your precious larger caliber ammunition for other uses (like defending your hearth and home if need be).
Let’s also talk about reloading: This actually deserves its own article but you will save some money (once you recoup the investment in the equipment) but be ready to invest some time in fabricating your rounds. This could be a valuable trade after TSHTF. While it may not make your post-apocalyptic supply of ammunition completely sustainable (you still need powder, primers and bullet heads), you can make more ammunition while your supplies last.
In summary, look at the mix of weapons you want to have on hand for after TSHTF and start building your inventory of ammunition (and accessories) to defend and sustain you and your family after TEOTWAWKI. Since everyone has a budget (some larger than others), right-sizing your ammunition stockpile is important. Remember, if you have to Bug Out, you can only carry so much. Be a shame to leave a huge cache of ammunition behind, particularly if you forewent other purchases of things that you might have needed. On the flipside, a weapon without ammo doesn’t do you much good either.
Keep on Prepping!
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