"when the ammo is gone?"

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by GroovyMike, May 12, 2010.

  1. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    I’ve seen several posts online lately talking about “when the ammo is gone” in a long term SHTF situation. My plan is to NOT run out of ammo. But that has me thinking. How much is a reasonable supply to ensure that? You often hear “1,000 rounds per rifle” as a good ball park figure to start with.

    I’ll defer to those with firefight experience if they wish to correct my estimates, but since we need some timeline as a base, let’s assume that 1,000 cartridges would last the “average” prepper post SHTF, a year.

    1,000 is almost 20 shots per week which is more than enough for a year’s worth of rifle use for hunting – even year round hunting. Every firearm in each home will not be used for hunting. So even if, God forbid, you need to use them all for defense at some point in the first year after the SHTF, it should balance out enough to call a thousand per firearm a reasonable supply for at least one year.

    If you are a long term planner like me, you reload your ammo and have at least 1,000 projectiles, 1,000 primers, and 6.25 lbs of powder on hand (my load calls for 43.5 grains of powder per cartridge so 6.21 lbs loads a thousand) to reload those initial thousand cartridge cases. This should carry you through the second year.

    What next? I have bought a bullet mold. Even without jacketed projectiles or gas checks I can load low velocity rounds with a cast lead projectile and 10 grains of Red Dot powder for an effective close range hunting and defense round. While this load will not cycle my semi autos it will work just dandy in my bolt action rifles and using my semi autos as bolt actions. With this basic reserve, two years after the SHTF, if you have still used 1,000 cartridges per firearm per year, and have been unable scavenge, or barter for loaded ammo, powder, or projectiles you could still load effective cartridges for hunting and defense.

    At ten grains per cartridge an eight pound keg of Red Dot would load a whopping 5,600 cartridges. Primers cost about $30 per thousand and only take up minimal storage space. 7 bricks of primers, an eight pound keg of full power rifle powder, and an eight pound keg of Red Dot in long term reserve, along with my bullet mold, and my initial thousand cartridge cases - I could have 7,600 firings from my initial 1,000 cartridges – more than a seven and a half year supply.

    At this point someone reading this is saying – yeah but what about REALLY long term TEOTWAWKI? I too believe in planning for the next generation.

    So in our scenario it is now TEOTWAWKI + seven years. You have not been able to expand your supplies by buying, barter, salvage, or looting. As unlikely as it is, every primer and grain of smokeless powder in the world has been used up and no one has restarted the manufacturing process. You are the last outpost of humanity and you are down to a six month supply of cartridges which you are still using at an average rate of more than two shots per day.

    I have a two word solution: black powder.

    I will not attempt to explain the manufacture of black powder to you. Any search engine will bring you to it and you will have had seven years to practice getting it right in the above scenario. As evidence of the effectiveness of black powder I will make note that on October 7, 1777 at the Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolution, patriot Timothy Murphy made two one shot kills of British Officers over 300 yards away with his flintlock rifle. Flintlocks need no primers. This should keep you shooting plenty long enough to research and restart the smokeless powder era should you choose to do so.
  2. pioneergirl

    pioneergirl Junior Member

    As I completely agree that you can't beat a gun for long range, accuracy, and stopping power, I personally do not posses the skills or equipment for your talent in reloads. My defense? My bow. I can always find a tree to make my arrows (I love MythBusters! LOL), and I'm quiet.

    Please don't think I'm saying a bow is better, as you've pointed out, its not. But for long term, and for me, I prefer my bow. JMO :)

  3. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    Reloading is very easy if you have the equipment. You can get started with a Lee Loader set of hand tools for $25 (new retail price) or less if you buy used, if you are inclined to do so. There is nothing wrong with a bow for its intended purpose (we haev 4 at our house) and it has the advantage of low noise even if it has a limited range. I have arrowed a deer but prefer the added range of a firearm.

    Similarly, I have harvested deer with a muzzle loader but there is a reason that militaries have gone to the later technology. It simply works better. That said - a pointy stick through the vitals can kill you just as dead as the latest short magnum's bullet. Use what works for you, but with the knowledge that there are other options.
  4. pioneergirl

    pioneergirl Junior Member

    Agree! In the military I was trained on many firearms, and bet your....I won't hesitate to use one!! :D
  5. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

    In a firefight you can go through a bunch of ammo in a big hurry! For our defensive weapons we figure on a 2,000 round minimum for each. (If you plan on needing to defend yourself often 10,000 rounds each is not excessive.) However, war isn't like a movie. Very few people survive multiple encounters. Since I'm looking at family members in our group we plan to avoid conflict whenever possible and if defense is needed to stack the odds as clearly in our favor as possible.

    We play a lot of paintball and even the very best get "killed" sooner or later. It's good training in a lot of ways and is especially good at destroying the illusion of immortality for the Rambo wannabe's. (Paintball can also encourage some bad habits/tactics so beware of these if you use it for training purposes.)

    For meat procurement you're much better off to rely upon traps and snares than firearms. They're quiet and on duty 24/7 and extremely effective. Get yourself some snare wire/cable and a bunch of 110 bodygrip traps and you're in business forever. Learn some primitive trapping techniques as well.

    We also plan on using bows/arrows and crossbows for hunting. We work on primitive skills as much as we can. Crossbows are notoriously hard on strings so I have a lot of dacron string material and make my own strings.

    I also have thousands of shotgun primers for use in my scoped inline muzzle loading rifle. It has the economy of black powder and the accuracy of a modern weapon.
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  6. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    I used to play alot of paintball, but, after an encounter with a very sick mosquito and becomming very sick myself, I haven't gone out paint-balling at all. Litterally, I was a zombie while fighting the WestNile virus that was infesting my body.

    I also believe in the "re-usable" weapons. I have my X-bow and a wide range of bolts for it. I also have a spear-head that can be used as either a knife or as a spear-head on a hardwood shaft that I custom-cut just for the head-piece. I am planning on expanding my archery equipment as time / funds allow with long-bow and compound-bows to be added to my collection. I have several targets that I practice with and I am looking for some more to add-in.

    Also - don't discount BB-guns - they are relatively inexpensive and can help you put a tree-rat into a pot of boiling water right beside potatoes, carrots and celery. Wildmist has a laser-sighted dart-gun (air-powered) that can fairly easily put one of our local jack-rabbits into a large pot.
  7. pdx210

    pdx210 Well-Known Member

    I like mosquitomountainman post.

    You can never have enough ammo... period. when it's hard to get or not made anymore it's going to be the new currency so you can trade with it.
    I also think one of the most valuable calibers is the 22 for general utility use, it's cheap, good for small game hunting and pests, it's quieter and easier to quiet relative to larger caliber firearms
  8. ZoomZoom

    ZoomZoom Rookie Prepper

    IMHO, the right amount is more than everyone else. If everyone is caching 1000 rounds, I'd go for 2000. Whomever runs out first... loses.

    As noted, there's no such thing as too much.

    As for bartering with it, for me it would be a last resort. Once you've given someone ammo, they now have the means to try to get the rest of yours.

    EDIT TO ADD: If you think you'll go through 100 or 1000 rounds per year, still try to buy 50 years worth.
  9. TimB

    TimB Member

    Defensive and hunting are two seperate weapons for me. And it will be a while before I run out of ammo for either. :D I'm a firm believer you cannot have too much ammo. ;) As far as TEOTWAWKI, I would use my bow and snares for hunting so as not to alert anyone to my presence in the area.

  10. marlas1too

    marlas1too Well-Known Member

    i reload all the time and stockpile ammo this year alone ive gone through 5 bricks of shotshell primers and 3 bricks small pistol and 4 bricks large pistol primers and 2 large rifle primers i get all the 12 gage emptys i want from the local skeet club and i buy brass shell once fired cheap local so as someone told me once --buy it cheap stack it deep--ammo if your store it right will last a very long timeand oh yea buy lots of 22,s too they will come in handy too fror hunting small game--i also stock black powder and primers and im going to see a smith in harpers ferry about changing my rifles from caps to flint ---look around flea markets you might be able to pick up some steel traps -research on snares too-----remember its better to have and not need than need and not have----------shoot what you are good with
  11. mosquitomountainman

    mosquitomountainman I invented the internet. :rofl:

    Be careful getting traps and snares on ebay. I've watched them for a couple of years now and I can almost always beat their prices ordering from trapping supply companies.
  12. catsraven

    catsraven Meoww

    I dont know why someone would waste ammo on small game :gaah: when snares and traps are so quite :2thumb:. A gunshot can be herd for miles.:eek:

    Im still here just lurking. :sssh:
  13. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

    I enjoy black powder, been shooting it for years, I keep 10#s around all the time, a couple hundred balls and a couple thousand primers.
  14. HarleyRider

    HarleyRider Comic Relief Member

    An alternative not yet discussed.

    I think my Class IV laser will do the job quite nicely if needed. Of course, it helps to have 10,000 rounds of ammunition for my rifles/handguns. :D
  15. marlas1too

    marlas1too Well-Known Member

    just finished another brick of shotshell primers (1,000) and all my bb,s so now its off to the local gun shop and get some primers and then to wally world to get bb,s--bb,s cost less than lead shot pound for pound -got to get more primers for my black powder too-buy it cheep stack it deep-----remember its better to have and not need than need and not have
  16. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    I have a 4,000 watt Class4 laser, but the range isn't great. I can slice-n-toast bread at the same time. I can put holes in steel plate that bullets cannot pierce. I can remove body-parts from people, but, it is a PITA to try to hold the people in place while the laser does its job :gaah:

    My maximum range is about 48" and as the beam gets further from the lens, the loss of strength becomes exponential.
  17. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    You guys are gettin all Star Trek on us here. :surrender:
    I figure by the time the ammo is all gone, the 2 legged predators will be too. I'll just have to use my bows to feed us.
  18. HarleyRider

    HarleyRider Comic Relief Member

    Change your optics and you should be able to get a lot greater distance.

    If all else fails, that's what the 10,000 rounds of ammo is for! :2thumb:
  19. pioneergirl

    pioneergirl Junior Member


    I'm with you... :surrender: :dunno:
  20. GroovyMike

    GroovyMike Well-Known Member

    Lets see if we can rescue this thread.

    I wrote this a couple of years ago. But it seems worth sharing again, even if the prices quoted below have already doubled!

    How much ammo should I have?

    First and foremost I am a firm believer in “Buy it cheap and stack it deep.” I mean – c’mon, what other useful yet consumable item has 100+ year shelf life? Can you ever have too much ammo? Answer – of course not! And yet there are practical considerations. Most of us do not have the funds to buy ammo by the pallet for every cartridge we wish to keep on hand. Therefore, we must prioritize. Part of doing that is deciding how much of any given caliber (i.e. cartridge) is “enough” even if it is just “enough for now.” The basis for deciding how much is enough hinges on three questions:

    * What is the intended use?
    * How many people are you stocking ammo for?
    * How long before you expect to resupply?

    If you can answer these questions, then how much ammo to acquire and store will be obvious. Let’s eliminate the last question first. How long before resupply? Question: Do you think that an ammunition shortage or significant price appreciation is likely at any time in the future? I do. There is no political will to stop an ammunition manufacturing tax, or ammunition import tariff. I will leave that statement to stand on its own merits because I hesitate to give the gun grabbers any more confidence than they already have. Suffice to say that we shooters would vote the incumbents out of office during the next election. But even if we did so, governments are revenue sucking machines. No such tariff would ever be likely to be repealed. The domestic supply of cheap ammunition will evaporate over night just as it did for the steel core ammunition banned from import by executive order in the 1980s. Those cartridges which sold for 10 cents per round then, are now worth $1 each if you can find them.

    Is it already too late? Popular 7.62x39 is already back ordered for up to six months at most suppliers. This backlog has been in place for months. I have not yet heard a reasonable explanation. If you agree that buying when a product costs less is better than buying at a higher price, or if you agree that a future ammunition shortage is likely - you probably want to store enough ammunition to last you at least a decade.

    How many people are you stocking ammo for? Let’s start with yourself as the primary shooter and you can double the amount if you have a spouse who is an active shooter, triple if you have a child, etc. But for now, let’s consider just one shooter and let the rest of the math follow along in multiples of our one shooter calculations.

    Now, what is the intended use? If you are the kind of hunter who fires only one or two shots a year, you probably aren’t concerned with storing ammunition anyway. If you are a recreational shooter (backyard plinker or competitive sportsman) you can calculate your usual usage based on how much shooting you typically do. Fifty cartridges per weekend might be considered a reasonable amount. Competitive shooters will easily burn through ten times that, but Jr. who goes through a box of 22 cartridges in an afternoon of tin can punching, or Joe who throws 50 shells on the skeet range is probably more typical. Some of us shoot more than that in one sitting (especially with high capacity magazines) but we may only shoot once per month. 200 cartridges one weekend per month works out to the same monthly total as 50 cartridges per weekend. So we’ll go with that estimate and you can modify the conclusion to reflect your own habits.

    Fifty per weekend = 2,600 cartridges per year. A mere decade’s supply would be an unbelievable TWENTY SIX THOUSAND CARTRIDGES!!! But don’t be scared by the sticker shock when you start thinking about the investment required to put up 26,000 factory loaded cartridges for your 300 Win Mag. Chances are good that most of those cartridges will be pistol loads or 22 rim fire. In addition, reloading ammunition represents a huge potential cost savings. About half my shooting is done with 22 rimfire ammo. My son and I fire about 100 cartridges per month in one or two sittings. The total monthly cost for this is a mere $2 per month. I ask you – what provides more father/son
    entertainment per dollar? At a rate of one 550 round “brick” of ammo per paycheck it would take me less than a year to stockpile a full ten year supply of 13,000 cartridges. Let me say that again, if I bought just one brick of 22 ammunition per paycheck, I’d have a ten year supply of 22 ammo on hand before a year was up. As of this writing my local Wal-Mart has the best local price on 22LR ammunition. They offer both Federal and Remington brand hollow point, copper washed, loose packed cartridges in boxes of 550 for less than nine dollars per box including the sales tax. The grand total for a ten year supply would be $212 for twenty three 550 round boxes. That’s not a huge investment but you might get some unwanted attention if you take home that much ammunition at once. I’d recommend picking up one or two bricks per month and rotating your purchases between three or four stores.

    The remainder of my shooting is mostly centerfire rifle ammunition. For simplicity’s sake let’s assume that they are all 308 cartridges. If I buy in 500 round cases of full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition or reload soft point hunting loads the cost is less than 20 cents per cartridge ($20 per month). The current price for FMJ 308 ammunition is $100 per 500 cartridges. Buying in multi-case lots or reloading may lower your cost to nearly half that. Buying a case per month is an option, or even twice a year. If you buy a thousand round case above your daily use twice per year it would take six years to collect a ten year supply. If you have the financial resources to buy thirteen cases at once then you can be geared up immediately.

    Before we leave the topic of intended use, consider that if (God forbid) your family needs to defend your retreat from armed attackers, you may exhaust an enormous amount of ammunition very, very quickly.

    When can you expect resupply? In the case of continued price hikes, never at a better price. In the case of a ban, never at any price. There will never be a better time to buy.

    Conclusions: If you can answer the three questions of: what use? how many? and how long before resupply? You can tweak the above examples to match your own objectives. They key concept is that stocking up now, to take advantage of a buyers’ market is prudent. The first step is recognizing that you have a need to store ammunition. The second is recognizing that this is the time to buy. The third is deciding how much you need.

    What should we do? There is only one answer. Buy now. Buy for the ammo you plan to expend in backyard plinking. Buy for the ammo you plan to shoot or reload next year. Buy for the hunting loads that you plan to expend in the next few years to practice with for each season. Buy what you feel is prudent for self defense. Buy today, because tomorrow may be too late. If you don’t, who will arm the next generation of shooters – or for that matter the hunters coming of age in the next decade? We owe it to our children. If the sort shortage that I am talking about occurs, you will have invested in a commodity that has a hundred year shelf life at a fraction of the replacement value.

    Reality check: Let’s take a moment to double check the reasonableness of my conclusions. Is a ten year supply of ammo really necessary? Is it worth the financial investment? Yes, if God forbid, you need that ammunition to feed or defend your family, you would gladly have paid ten times the cost in retrospect. But what if I’m wrong? What if I am running in circles yelling that the sky is falling? What if no ban or price hike happens in the next five or ten or twenty years? Will you lose anything at all by buying a commodity that you will use later? Quite to the contrary – if no change in the supply or demand for ammunition occurs, but inflation continues unabated (let’s assume just 2% inflation per year to be conservative) your investment appreciates 10% in monetary value in just five years. You probably would not earn 2% interest on funds in a savings account. If your salary did not go up every year you would be losing purchasing power. So even by this conservative estimate, you have nothing to lose. At the very worst, you invest money in a hobby that you love and retain the ability to defend those you care about. That sounds like money well spent to me – even if nothing happens.