How Much Ammunition Is Actually Enough
(Photo by Fred Mastison)

One question I get often is, “How much ammunition should I store?” This question is difficult, and I equate it with someone asking me what they should name their next child. In each case my answer begins with, “It depends.” In my mind there are two reasons to load up on, or stockpile ammunition. One is for general personal use such as training and range time. The second reason is the possibility of societal collapse or some sort of devastating disaster that could throw the country into chaos. Each situation has different ammo requirements and limitations.

How Much Ammunition for Shooting/Training?

First let’s look at storing ammunition for general personal use, a common practice among serious shooters. This is also a habit that is grossly and intentionally twisted by the media. In their non-firearms mind, 1,000 rounds of ammunition sounds incredible and brings to mind images of 10-foot piles of linked ammo. In reality, 1,000 rounds of handgun ammunition can be stored in a desk. So, while we laugh at the absurdity of their portrayal, it is designed to fan fear into the masses. The question people have is, “Why?”

First and foremost, it is generally less expensive to buy ammunition in bulk. Buying a case of ammunition usually comes with a discount. Second is that occasionally we find a specific lot of ammunition that runs extremely well in one or more of our guns. If that is the case, grab as much of that specific lot as your checking account can tolerate. As serious shooters we can easily burn through a case of handgun ammunition in a two- to three-day training cycle. The same is true with both carbines and shotguns.

From there, I can share an opinion on how much ammunition is enough. Take a look at how much you typically shoot and project that out to a year. Do you fire 200 rounds of hangun ammo a month? That’s 2,400 rounds a year or just over two cases of ammo. I would round it up a few hundred rounds just because. Go shopping and you will find a good deal on case lots of ammunition.

So, your new total may be 3,000 rounds or three cases. Once again, this does not take up nearly as much space as people would think. If I had to pick a number to suggest, I would say it is a solid idea to have at least 2,000 rounds of any caliber you shoot regularly. Some will laugh at that number because they have substantially more. I can appreciate that for those who can afford it. In some cases you can get even deeper discounts by buying 5,000 rounds or more. That, however, is getting into a price point that may be outside of most peoples’ reach.

How Much Ammunition for Survival?

Preppers have been pushing people to store ammunition since it was essentially powder and musket balls. I have seen some pretty hefty numbers regarding suggested storage amounts over the years. Before we start building the bunker, however, we need to answer a question. Are you going to be able to stay in place, or will you be on the move? I could go on for hours about the pros and cons of staying or going, but it generally can be broken down into two categories. If you live in a rural area, it is much easier to stay put and essentially build a defendable position. If you are living in an apartment in a city, you will probably need to be more mobile.

In either case, we need as much ammunition as we can manage, with the idea being that getting more will be very difficult. The days of recreational target shooting will be gone. In a rural scenario, I would suggest upwards of 10,000 rounds per caliber. Yes, that is a lot of ammunition but understand that in this scenario it is also currency.

It is also at this point where safety must be briefed. Regardless of how much ammunition stored, you need to make sure it is done safely. Fireproof storage areas are a must for serious storage. Also, if you are going to store large amounts of ammunition, it will need to be moved into hard side boxes or even metal ammo cans. Traditional cardboard boxes are not up to the task and will cause issues as they break down or get visits from mice. Storage areas will need to be dry and cool to get the most storage life out of ammo.

Those in an urban setting will face a serious challenge. While you may want to have 10,000 rounds of .223, you need to realize that it will weigh close to 300 pounds. In this situation, I encourage people to put together rigs that will allow them to carry ammo effectively. However, unless you are a seasoned back country hiker or prior military you will need to be realistic about how much you carry.

If you include a rifle weighing approximately 8 pounds kitted out and throw in 10 mags you are already looking at almost 20 pounds. Throw in a handgun, loaded mags for that and everything else, including food, and it gets hefty in a hurry. With that being said, I still encourage you to have 200 to 300 rounds of ammo per weapon. It will be work, but I believe that it is better to have it than to wish you did later. There are of course many moving parts to this plan. Having a handy .22LR rifle and or handgun drastically makes life easier and I absolutely encourage folks to have both. You can carry a bunch of ammo in a smaller area and it is less expensive.

Some people will laugh at what they believe are my “small” number suggestions while others may reel in shock. My suggestions though are middle of the road and will serve most people well. Once again, though, be safe and responsible in your storage choices. Also consider choosing guns in popular calibers, as these loads are usually less expensive and readily available.

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