Deciding on Ammunition Storage

  1. christophereger
    When being prepared, no matter how many tubes of toothpaste, packs of TP, or cases of beef stew you have is going to matter if someone can come and take it away from you. To protect your cache and your family, you need firearms. And those firearms are only as good as long as they are loaded.

    What to stock up on


    Ideally, you will be able to store several firearms in your secure location for use. This would include a medium caliber rifle for large game hunting and defense, a handgun for trips around town and concealed carry while outside your secure location, a small caliber rifle or pistol for hunting small game, and a shotgun. In future articles we will expand on this concept.

    Suffice it to say, each one of these weapons systems will need a good supply of ammunition to keep them going. Do not expect to be able to resupply if you have a long-term breakdown of civilization.

    With each system, recognize that you will ideally want to stock several different types of rounds. For instance, if you have a 9mm handgun, you may want to have a good supply of FMJ rounds for general use as well as some JHPs for critical defense. Likewise, with a shotgun, you can stock up on both small caliber shot (No. 6, 7, 8 etc.) for squirrel, rabbit and dove hunting, as well as larger shot (buck, slug) for deer or home invaders.

    How much to do you need

    Well, this depends on how long you want to survive. If you anticipate a situation where you will only have to be self-sufficient for two weeks before the lights come on and everything comes back to normal, you may not elect to stock up 20,000 rounds of 5.56mm. However, if you are preparing for the worst-case scenario and you have multiple platforms that take the same caliber, 20K rounds may just be what you are looking for. After all, can you really have too much ammo?

    A good rule of thumb is a two-year supply plus two contingencies. Let's do the math

    1. How many times a year do you practice with your firearms and how many rounds do you shoot?

    2. How many times a year do you hunt and how many rounds do you shoot doing so? IF you plan to hunt more in a survival situation, multiply this amount by how much more.

    3. Now for contingencies, how many rounds would you expect to fire in a confrontation with armed looters intent on coming into your home in the worst-case scenario? 1? 50? 200? Multiply this by at least two.

    Add up No 1-3 and see what you need. This should be the minimum you want to store.

    How to store it

    Luckily the US and NATO militaries have for generations made beautiful sheet metal ammo cans complete with rubberized seals. These cans, carefully inspected for holes, bad seals, rust, and dents, are literally made for this task. Add some desiccant to the cans to remove ambient moisture and you are good to go.


    This surplus WWII ammo can, stored in a backyard fallout shelter since the Cuban Missile Crisis was unearthed in 2013. The inside contents, as well as those of several other cans, were preserved perfectly even though they sat under five feet of water for decades.

    Ammo, safely stored away from humidity and air can be safe to shoot for decades. If you are anti-ammo cans, other options include sealing ammo in food-grade plastic vacuum bags or in tightfitting (think Tupperware) plastic boxes and bins. Gun safes, rated against theft and fire, can also help keep your ammo good to go.


    Either way, make sure you have enough of the right stuff, and as the old adage goes: keep your powder dry.

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