Stockpiling Ammo for SHTF

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Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by Brady. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


Once you have a firearm you need to consider what it is going to take to feed your weapon. You can think of it in the way of just getting enough ammo for a particular hunt or recreation, but I suggest you take a good hard look at stockpiling ammo for the just in case scenario. There are some good guidelines and tips on stockpiling ammo that will simplify this process for you and make it easier than it sounds on some forums you may have come across.

Stockpiling Ammunition: Amounts and Types

First we will go over the best amounts and types of ammunition to stockpile. This could be specific to the caliber and gauge of the firearms you so they may be somewhat generalized. The first type is the ultra popular 22LR. It is common and popular for good reason because it is light, effective, and generally cost efficient. The fact that you can generally get larger lots of this ammo for a fraction of the cost makes it an absolute staple in any ammo stockpile. Chances are you already own a 22LR and if you are new to firearms they are great way to get into shooting because of the lack of harsh noise and absence of recoil making it easy to get your fundamentals down. If you are able to master your shooting fundamentals with a gun that uses cheap ammunition you will be way ahead rather than trying to buy a gun to make you better. 22LR is now becoming a little easier to get a hold of in the 500 round lots again so it is a good time to go out and grab some. My recommendation for the amount to keep on hand is 2,000 rounds that you actually keep stockpiled away from your normal shooting stash. In the event you need to hunt for food this gives you a lot of opportunities with minimal space to store it and weight of the cache. This is only 4 cases of the 500 round “bricks” you typically see people buying.

For semiautomatic weapons such as your AR-15 and AR-10 platforms, as well as semiautomatic pistols it is a good idea to keep around 2,000 rounds as well because these types of rifles can really chew through your ammunition stock if you do a lot of shooting. It’s pretty much nothing to go out and shoot 100 rounds in an afternoon and that is just a little over 3 standard 30 round magazines. If you can keep stock of more than this it is even better but aiming for 2,000 rounds in reserve plus whatever amount you deem for practice shooting is a great goal to shoot for. It is the easiest and most affordable to buy FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition because it is the most available and in the largest lots if you want to get bulk pack. A good goal is to have around 200 rounds of the more specialty type ammunition such as ballistic tip, hollow point, and match ammo because they are great for what they are designed for but are often over double the price of the conventional FMJ type ammunition.

For your bigger bolt guns and magnum rifles try to keep around 250 rounds in your reserve stash. The reason for this being a lower number is factored by two main reasons: cost and amount typically used. If you own a 300 win mag you know how expensive it is to shoot and the fact you don’t typically go out and try to shoot 100 rounds in a day unless your shoulder is made out of granite. However if you do a lot of long-range shooting you may go through more of this ammo so keep in mind the 250 rounds is just the amount of ammo you are saving for an emergency not included in your normal shooting ammo. For shotguns aim for about 500 rounds because regardless of gauge this is a lot of firepower. It might be a good idea to get a variety of loads besides just basic #7 bird-shot. 00 buckshot is great because of its effectiveness at self-protection and slugs for hunting.

Storage Solutions for your stockpiled ammo

MTM 50 Caliber Ammo Storage Can – $10

Now that you have a better idea of how much ammunition to keep on hand I’ll go over the best ways to store it for long-term storage. First you will need some good containers such as plastic or metal ammo cans. These come with a gasket in the lid to make a strong seal when snapped shut making moisture and humidity difficult to permeate. I recommend leaving the ammunition in the boxes it comes in just for organizational sake to keep a bunch of loose rounds from rolling around. If you buy larger lots they sometimes come in an ammo can already so that will save you a step looking for a container. You can buy replacement gaskets so if a gasket ever starts to fall apart or dry up you can simply throw in a new gasket to keep the integrity of the ammo can. The best thing to do is keep desiccant packages inside the ammo can to absorb any moisture that would be inside the can keeping the rounds dry.  These are cheap and you can usually find them in things you already purchased in the packaging. Make sure to mark each box with what is inside either with some tape to write on or stencils so it is easy for you to identify if in a hurry.

Cost effective way to start stockpiling ammo

If you do not have the money to drop $350+ on a big lot of ammo you can simply go for a small box of ammo every week or couple of weeks. Just as an example say you will get a box of 20 rounds of .223/5.56 every week at around $9 a box for basic FMJ will add up to only $36 dollars a month and give you 1,200 rounds year. So basically you can incrementally add to your ammo stockpile instead of have to buy in bulk. It does offer some cost savings to purchase larger lots but may be a little easier to budget for a smaller weekly expense. As long as you take some simple steps to budget and prepare for it you will be able to begin getting a good cache built up.

About the author: Brady comes to us from Preppers Unlimited. Preppers Unlimited are geared towards all things prepping, survival, hunting, gardening, and firearms related. “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

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46 Comments on "Stockpiling Ammo for SHTF"

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John Hertig
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Actually 00 Buck is not the best for defensive purposes. #4 Buck is generally considered to be better outside of Hollywood scriptwriters. 00 will certainly work to stop an attacker (or food animal), but you are discarding some of the “spread” which is intrinsic to shotguns. .223 FMJ is not reliable at stopping an attacker. Certainly it is great for practice and is better than nothing, but for “real” defensive or hunting use, you want to have as much expanding ammunition as is practical for your situation. If I were to depend on a 223, I would use only expanding… Read more »
BobW
Guest
I wouldn’t disagree on 00 Buck as less than ideal outside buildings. The problem I’ve seen with #4 is availability and price. You can find more than a dozen different brands and specs of 00 Buck on the shelf, but if lucky, you might find one box of #4. In my shopping, #4 is significantly more expensive than basic 00 buck loads. As for .223 and 5.56mm, avoid the .223, stick with 5.56mm. Using 55gr FMJ for practice and general target shooting, but focus on M855 62gr FMJ for zero… I’ve read better data on 77gr ammo, and the newer… Read more »
John Hertig
Guest
If #4 is hard to find and more expensive, then that is an important factor these days. Back when I was buying ammunition, #4 was plentiful and the same price as 00. Perhaps it is hard to find and more expensive because those in the know have been buying it up. As for the data I’ve seen, the 85gr is marginal in the 1/8 barrel and not suitable for a 1/9. 1/7 is where it really shines. 1/7 is for heavier bullets and 1/9 is for lighter bullets and 1/8 is a compromise which should handle 40gr to 87gr at… Read more »
BobW
Guest

Most of your response matches my readings. I did read some time ago about 85gr actually working well in 1/9 barrels, but the author did mention it was at elevation. It was a surprise to read from this author SGM(Ret) Kyle.

I don’t have experience on this, as I don’t have a weapon in that chambering, but the observation is worth researching. It would have been in G&A, or one of their AR ‘specials’ last year.

John Hertig
Guest

The problem is distance. The reason we “spin” bullets is so that they have gyroscopic properties to keep them “in line”. When the spin rate drops low enough that it is no longer gyroscopic, then the bullets have a tendency to tumble, which messes up accuracy severely. So if you are “close enough” that the slower rate of spin (due to slower velocity and less barrel twist) does not slow down to the critical point, then no problem. Perhaps if you are high enough, the thinner air doesn’t slow down the spin as much.

JD
Guest

I think #4 buck and 00 buck is splitting hairs. If you shoot someone in the chest with either round at 15 feet, I doubt they will be able to tell the difference. And all of the law enforcement I know that pack shotguns, pack 00 buck. Good enough for them good enough for me.

John Hertig
Guest

Do the people who pack the shotguns choose the ammunition? Or could it be bean counters back at the office who got their gun training from movies and are only concerned with cost?

In any case, 00 is adequate, and if it is cheaper and easier to find, its not a “wrong” choice. At 15 feet with good aim, I doubt there is any significant difference. At longer range and under stress, the significantly larger number of pellets in #4 may provide an advantage.

JD
Guest
Well it could be argued that the smaller pellet size of #4 would be less effective at range due to it smaller size and lighter weight. 00 buck can keep all its pellets within the size of a hubcap at 25 yards. That’s the performance I’ve seen with it. Not to mention, the low recoil type ammo law enforcement use is MORE expensive than than regular ammo. Hey, I don’t really care what someone uses, as I got no dog in this hunt. I hardly use a shotgun, as I believe the rifle or pistol can do, for the most… Read more »
crazy euro dude
Guest
i have 12 gauge semi auto shotgun and im packing a lot of 5.5 and 7.5mm buck size shells, when shooting at someone with 7.5mm buck (im european we dont use your terms in buck size) there is 12 of them in each shell and that can form a 1/4m2 spread at 5-6m range with each buck having enough power like pistol round 7.62mm short with each having decent power to seriously injure a grown man, not to mention the other 11 buck in same spread.. at 5 shells x 12 buck each thats 60pcs 7.5mm ball flying towards imposter… Read more »
The Kafir
Guest

I keep a large selection of ammo. For shotgun, I have shot for nearly all possibilities; hunting different game as well as home/self defense. But yeah, the bad guys ain’t gonna know what drops them…

Jonny Dplrbl
Guest
I disagree on the .223/5.56 not being a good stopper. It only got bad when Uncle Sam switched to 62gr [tri-metal] M855 FMJ, which did not have the velocity or rapid tumble of the predecessor, the 55gr [bi-metal] M193 FMJ. The 55gr FMJ variant is a highly viable anti-personnel round out of an M4 or longer barrel. It tumbles within a couple of inches of entry and causes massive trauma. The 62gr was designed to penetrate barriers, but the trade-off was poor terminal ballistics. Of course, bigger is better when it comes to bullets, but there are many other factors,… Read more »
John Hertig
Guest

When did they make that change? I’ve heard guys who were in Viet Nam claim to have see puffs of dust from running Viet Cong, who kept on running. And did they also change the barrel twist at the same time? The 62gr likes a tighter twist than the 55gr.

nuartyboy
Guest

The change from M193 to M855 was made in the 1980s. Anything you hear from a Vietnam-era veteran is obsolete as DOD has not utilized the 55 gr rounds in decades. Maybe you should be asking about 5.56 terminal ballistics from an OEF/OIF Veteran – there are Millions of them.

GregChick
Guest

isn’t a short barrel pistol using bird shot a good self protection?

BobW
Guest

Indoors. Outdoors, and at any range beyond say 25 yards, there is no certainty of taking down larger game. Wounds will be real, but not necessarily sufficient to stop larger game when the children are hungry and scared.

BobW
Guest

Crap, I missed the ‘pistol’ you mentioned. Judge style weapons that shoot the .410 shotgun round I would question at anything but point-blank range. Insufficient quantity of shot, and with the stub barrel makes its effective range minimal. Caveat Empor.

GregChick
Guest

Caveat Emptor, for sure, but pistol being easy cary, buck shot being “hard to miss” target sort of thing and self protection may be “Point blank” or near. I am no marksman, I am not even an enthusiast, just blogging, reading and learning. Thanks for the reply, if I really want to know I need to buy a couple boxes and a pistol and a cheap dummy on a swing rope!, sound like therapy?

BobW
Guest

If it was me, I would certainly experimenting with the theory through therapy.

GregChick
Guest

Therapy first guns second… got it. Guns are not the problem, people are, so I will practice what I preach. Then consider a nickel round butt S&W 19-4.

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
Guest
The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

The Judge with the Winchester PDX1.410 is my wife’s preferred nightstand or around the house weapon, vs. her Kimber Micro in .380 for carry.
The judge with that combo is devastating out to roughly 15 yd, and that’s all you should ever need in the house. The .380 was chosen for size, and her accuracy. We’ve been through all the popular 9mm handguns, and she’s just better with the Kimber. I’ll stick with my xDMs, or full size Kimber. But the gun you can get solid hits with is the “best” gun.

John Hertig
Guest

No, the shot is small, the velocity is not great, so the stopping power is pretty minimal. Plus, a short, rifled barrel will spread the pattern so much that you may hit things you don’t want to hit.

FRANK
Guest
In his excellent book “Life After Doomsday” Dr Bruce Clayton devotes a large section of a chapter on this question of how much ammo to store. It’s been a while since I read the book but he recommended 10,000 rounds for a battle rifle like an AR15 or AK47. This was based his research of the number of fire fights a person was likely to survive. Some other very good books that cover this subject is Mel Tappan “Survival Guns”, and “Boston’s Gun Bible” by Boston T. Party(great all around book for selecting which firearms to choose, very detailed). There… Read more »
Fifth_Disciple
Guest

Hodgdon’s Extreme Powers (I shoot H4895 and Retumbo) are guaranteed to fire in sub zero conditions.

John Hertig
Guest

Ah, good old “green tip”. Good stuff, but there have been and perhaps will continue to be, efforts to ban it for its “armor piercing” qualities.

I’ve always felt, without any hard evidence to support it, that heat could damage stored ammo as well. And of course, the real killer, is oil/gas or their fumes.

JD
Guest
The atf already tried that move, and it failed miserably. I doubt there will be any future attempts at such a futile move, as the m855 is not considered an armor piercing round. Regular 55gr m193 will penetrate soft armor, as any other center fire rifle round will. And that was what everyone saw the pukes at the aft was trying to pull, because if they were successful at banning m855, it wouldn’t have been long after m193 would have followed and so on and so forth. Ultimately banning the AR-15. Or rendering it useless if one could not buy… Read more »
John Hertig
Guest

Sorry JD, but there already has been a future attempt, a bill in Congress trying the same thing. And fortunately, it also died. Never underestimate the tenacity of the gun grabbers. They only have to win once, we have to win every time.

And the question is, how futile was it? Is it not a favorite tactic to demand the moon and then “settle” for an island in the Caribbean?

JD
Guest

I was unaware of any recent attempts on banning ammo. Aside from the one a couple years ago. But it wouldn’t surprise me. The liberal retards will always, feel, they know what is better for all of us and the safety of society.

John Hertig
Guest

Yep, some have good intentions, but they don’t tend to think things through. Someone does something unfortunate using a gun, why obviously, make guns illegal and unfortunate things can’t be done by people who a) already show they hold laws in contempt and b) have access to dozens of alternatives, some of which are even more effective for unfortunate acts than guns.

MrsRanMac
Guest

But…the 223 – 55g ammo will ALSO peirce armor…anyway it went through a piece of 1/4″ steel plate we had laying around….so I don’t see the difference between 55g & 62g other than 7g of weight…

John Hertig
Guest

Yep, realistically, most rifle calibers could be considered to be “armor piercing”, since the “standard” is Kevlar cloth based. Successful bans tend to be on “pistol” calibers.

JD
Guest
I think since those books were written, and I have 2 of claytons books I have the gun bible and tappans books, people have come to their senses. 10,000 rounds per battle rifle is absurd. Ok what if you have 3-5 battle rifles. Let’s take 3. I just looked online at one of the places I order ammo from. It’s 310 dollars for a 1000 rounds of 5.56. 3,100 dollars to get the required 10,000 rounds for one rifle. 9,300 to get the required 10,000 rounds per. Maybe it’s because when these recommendations were made, ammo was ALOT cheaper. But… Read more »
BobW
Guest

But, on the flip side, 10k, stashed in 5-10 locations of 500-1000 rounds each makes a lot of sense. I don’t think people follow the distributed resupply approach often enough.

JD
Guest

Lol, well, I didn’t say that I wouldn’t want 10k of ammo! Ehh it still wouldn’t last me, thats all the more shooting I’d be doing. That isn’t a bad plan though, having it stashed in different locations near the bug out or bug in location. Or maybe somewhere in between locations etc. Maybe if I won the lottery, but I wont be spending that kind of money on ammo. I wish I could!

Bolofia
Guest
A word of caution is perhaps in order here. If you can actually find five to ten places away from your home to safely store ammo, you still must be able to get to those locations to retrieve it if you have a SHTF situation. I have no argument with quantity of ammo (I try to maintain a combined inventory of around 10,000 rounds of 9mm, 5.56 and 7.62X39.) The lot size for each caliber varies over time, of course, based on consumption. I also maintain lesser quantities of ammo for other firearms, such as .22LR and 22 Mag, .357… Read more »
BobW
Guest
Thanks, Bolo. Sorry I didn’t see this over the weekend. You have the right of it, it is more involved, and potentially more risky than single source storage. This is completely hypothetical, as I have developed a proposed approach, but am not implementing as of now. Ideally, cheap back up weapons would be stored at these locations. This is where the physical and legal risk comes into it, as well as trust. If cost wasn’t an object (it is), and risk can be mitigated (not as of yet) Storing at least an AR-7 or 10/22 with accompanying .22LR would be… Read more »
FRANK
Guest
If will refer back to what Mr Clayton recommended was 10,000 total rounds spread out for all battle rifles. His research showed even a well trained individual was unlikely to survive firefights where 10,000 rounds were expended. Some of the other authors offered very specific advice on what types and the quantity of each to stock up on. Both the author of this article and numerous books offer advice it’s up to each individual to take it. From my experience the primary reason most departments use 00 Buck is because it was low bid. There are arguments that can be… Read more »
Flattop
Guest

When it comes to self defense, is it necessary to inform someone that you are armed and will defend yourself, or is it better to use the shock value of the discharging firearm which give you a valuable edge in the confrontation?

JD
Guest
Absolutely not. If someone breaks into my home at 2:00 am and I grab my weapon and see someone standing 6′ tall in my kids doorway, do you think I’m gonna say “stop or I’ll shoot!” Wrong, he will have a burst of 220 grain hornady critical duty penetrating his face. I conceal carry everywhere I go. Including the places that have “signs”. If I am at the mall and some scumbag pulls out a weapon and starts killing people, when I decide to engage, do you think I’m gonna yell “stop or I’ll shoot” wrong, burst to the face.… Read more »
Stephen McKnight
Guest

I’m with you on this subject. My wife thinks I’m overly cautious but I carry a XDS3.3 in 45 wherever I go, with my AK&AR stored in the back hatch of the truck w 3 mags of 30 each. Grandkids play a lot of ball and everyone should know that terrorists will eventually attack at these events. I plan on my Grandkids coming home alive and muslims going to hell.

John Hertig
Guest
If a person is an immediate threat to you or other innocents they need to be stopped like right now. And that is the only reason you may be able to legally and morally shoot someone (no guarantees in our current legal climate). Because they needed to be stopped so much that it is irrelevant whether they die from that stopping. So it depends on the situation. Does the person have a weapon in hand? How close is he to you or the potential victim? And other such factors. Note that if you provide any indication that you “intended” to… Read more »
FRANK
Guest
Three good rules to remember if you ever have to use deadly force to take someone’s life. Do not discuss anything with the police without your attorney present. Even if the officer is your best friend from high school things have different ways of being interpreted, dont say anything, period. Same advice for any members of your family that may have been witnesses. It is not uncommon for people’s stories not to be exactly the same when viewed from different angles or mental states, age, experiences etc. Things look differently to different people. Join a legal aid organization now for… Read more »
christopher
Guest

not in the least! why give them a advantage? if you believe your life is in danger you want all the advantages you can get. even a stray bullet or riccochet can still end your life. i dont know of any state that requires you to announce your are armed before using deadly force…when you see their eyeballs go like saucers, you will know you have the edge.

Bolofia
Guest

You should also consult the laws of your state. A county or state prosecutor might interpret a verbal warning issued by you as an indication that you could have safely removed yourself from a threat.

christopher
Guest
i say, buy enough as you can safely store,. right now prices are back down to normal and ammo is avaliable… buy a little at a time, when you can afford to (because in 4 years, things could be different again!). if you do buy older ammo, make sure you clean your weapons asap due to corrosiveness of the ammo. if you reload, I would recommend something like Markron bullet & primer sealer if your going to store underground or in wet or damp places. buying in bulk is a bit more cheaper if you can afford it, if you… Read more »
Bolofia
Guest
I hear you. I bought a couple of “new” 1950’s era SKS 7.62X39 carbines a few years ago for about $150 each. This is the Yugo model that is equipped with a grenade launcher. They were armory new, never fired, and packed in cosmoline. After three weeks of cleaning and bleaching the wood stocks, I refinished them. They are now beautiful firearms and provide pretty decent accuracy. The current market price for a “used” SKS has now reached $450, so the investment was well worth it. The moral of the story is that you need to look for firearms that… Read more »
Pasifika
Guest

My goal is to have 5,000 rounds of ammo for each gun. Ammo is going to be currency when SHTF.

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