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Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash

Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash

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If you ever want to start a debate on a survival or shooting forum, just ask, “How much ammunition is enough for an emergency stockpile?” Then take cover. You’ll be amazed at every single armchair general who comes out of the woodwork to offer his or her opinion on the matter. Some folks are minimalists: “Only what you can carry” is their cry as they announce their plans to survive by scrounging their way through the apocalypse. Others say, “Buy it cheap, and stack it deep!” These fellas are the ones who plan on getting into a gun fight every single day as soon as the power goes off.

Many folks out there don’t fall into either group, and they don’t believe there is any reason to stockpile rounds for an emergency. In fact, I know plenty of shooters who always say “buy only what you shoot.” I used to be that guy. But I had to be honest with myself that this isn’t the Pax Americana anymore. Turn on the news and each day we are confronted by the realities of our existence in an increasingly unstable world. Now, I’m a realist.

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As a gun writer and firearm instructor, I have heard the question more and more: “Hey Zach, how much ammo should I have in case something happens?”

Well, I just ran out of battery power for my crystal ball. But I can say that you should have enough ammunition to protect your family and feed them with fresh game and meat if needed. Here is the amount I recommend and strive to keep stocked in my own closet.


Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash There is no better tool out there to constantly bring home game than a .22. From squirrel to rabbit, a .22 can bring home the bacon. Every homesteader and survivalist should have at least one reliable .22. During the depression, .22s kept families fed, and they can do it again. I strongly recommend aiming for at least 1,000 rounds per .22 — ideally 2,500-5,000 rounds. Start where you can.

The Shotgun

In addition to a .22, homesteaders and survivalists should have a .12- or .20-gauge shotgun. The shotgun can be used for small game like a .22 — for waterfowl and wild turkey, for instance. A round of 00 buck or a common deer slug can be used for much larger game. I cannot speak highly enough of the reliability of a good pump action over a semi-automatic shotgun.

I have two 12-gauge shotguns and a 20 gauge. I have two different barrels for each — one for slugs and 00 buck, and one for birds and small game. The slug barrels I keep are 21-inch barrels with a smoothbore and rifle sights. I have four-different chokes for each bird barrel.

At a minimum, I keep 200-400 rounds of game load for waterfowl, upland bird and small game, 100 rounds of 00 Buck and 100 slugs.

The Big Game Rifle

Although many claim that within months after a disaster there will be no wild game or anything to hunt, I think they are wrong. The person with a game rifle may be able to put more meat on the table over the person who does not.

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I try to aim for around 200 rounds minimally for big game rifles. I shoot common calibers such as .30-30, .243 and.308.

The Semi-Auto Sporting Rifle

A modern semi-auto rifle can be a great all-around firearm. For hunting, personal protection and home defense, these rifles can put a lot of rounds on target with decent accuracy.

For my AR-15s and AKs, I have about 4,000-5,000 rounds each. These rifles shoot a lot of lead, and have the potential to be “bullet eaters.” If you are on a budget, aim for at least 1000 rounds per rifle as well as 10 magazines.

The Handgun

My wife and I carry common caliber handguns — mostly in 9mm. I carry a Glock 19 daily and she carries a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. I always aim to keep about 400-500 rounds on hand for each handgun.

What type of stockpile do you keep? What advice would you add on stockpiling ammo? Share your advice in the section below:

If The Grid’s Down And You Don’t Have Ammo, What Would You Do? Read More Here.

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  1. Taxedn2poverty

    You have a good article and as you stated we can talk forever about guns and ammo, but I would never use a bolt action rifle for self defense unless nothing else was available. Germany lost WW2 because they sent three million infantrymen into Russia with bolt action rifles. My 270 bolt action is good for game and taking down the bad guys at distance but room to room would not be my weapon of choice. Again, good article and thanks for the input. God bless.

  2. I recently read an article where a woman stated within 3 months into the Great Depression in the 1930’s most all of the game disappeared. If you think you may survive another depression hunting for your food, you might want to think of another plan.

    • My great-grandfather supported the entire family clan by hunting through the Depression. By clan I do mean a clan of twenty-thirty people. It depends entirely on where you live. They also gardened, raised rabbits, turkeys, chickens, and had a milk goat. But for meat, hunting and fishing were their staples year in, year out. He’d sometimes take the other men up, but more often than not brought back more meat by himself. They lived in the mountains where the closest town had 600 people. Like I said, location matters.

    • have to agree about the game being gone within a short amount of time. I hear a little different numbers on how long until “big game” was scarce in the great depression. (I heard it was about a year.) So in these days with the population being much higher than in the 30’s I believe the “big game” will be gone In a few short months. Small game will remain though I believe, but you had better be able to get to it. Area’s around cities and towns will be void of just about all game animals in a short amount of time.

      • As Garden nut said. Location is going to be of the utmost importance.

      • I think one can figure 3/4 of an metrical population will either die off from starvation or from being shot while rioting. Have enough food stored back hunker down and wait for the smoke to clear. The ones left will be those who took heed and prepared for worst case scenario which I do not believe will be many so I think game will be plentiful. People will have to learn to preserve and smoke their meat to make it last. Skills that should be learned now.

    • Not in to days world, back in the day almost everyone hunted and owned firearms. Today 80 of the people have no idea how or what to hunt. Most of those would die off with out Uncle Sam to feed, cloth, and shelter them. Back then people could do everything for themselves today less then 10% of the population can feed and take care of themselves.

  3. Son of Liberty

    The German’s didn’t loose WWII because of their use of bolt action rifles, there were a greater number of issues than that which contributed to their demise.

    Remember, a whole lot of US servicemen were outfitted with the 30-06 Springfield bolt action as the Garand wasn’t available in wholesale numbers until toward the end of the war. And what did British and Australian soldiers use for the entirety of the war? The venerable old .303 British Enfield.

    A series of tests were done during this period and it was learned that the difference between AIMED fire by bolt action firearms and semi-automatic arms over a string of 10 shots was negligible – less than a second over the entire string!!! We too often make up things based on preferences and anecdotal experience, not tested reality.

    If you’re just spraying lead, then the semi-auto is miles ahead. But if you’re aiming, with a purpose to hit the enemy or a specific material target, then a smooth action bolt action is quite adequate. Don’t remove the stock from the shoulder between shots, and your aimed shots will be nearly as fast as a semi-automatic.

    BTW, remember the comments by the gentleman earlier that said the German’s went up against Russia and lost because they used the great old Model 98 Mauser bolt action? What do you think the Russians were using? AK-47’s? Nope (not yet), they used the venerable old bolt action Mosian-Negant (sp?).

    Anyway, a good article, but a little skewed on some of the issues. I’ll take the tried and true 30-06 before the .30-.30, the .243, or the .308. A more versatile cartridge for a handloader, and way easier to find ammo and components during a long dry spell.


    Son of Liberty

    • Armed Grandpappy

      Sorry but I respectfully disagree with the Garand not being widely available till the end of the war. The M1 Garand became the adopted Rifle of the US military in 1936. 5 years before our entry into the war. While some overseas units hadn’t been equipped with the new Rifle by 1941 (in the far East they were still using the 1903 Springfield) all the new soldiers were issued the new Garand from the onset. General Patton credited the Garand as the weapon that made the difference in the ETO.

      • There was at least one confirmed, and I’ve read accounts of two, regiments that landed on D-Day in Normandy that were armed totally with the 03. 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division and the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. There was a picture in the NRA magazine, within the last year or two, of one of the regiments climbing the bluffs from the beaches at Normandy with every man carrying an 03 Springfield.

  4. 100,000 Rounds

    You may have heard on the news about a Southern California man who was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had 100,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home. The house also featured a secret escape tunnel. By Southern California standards, someone owning 100,000 rounds is considered “mentally unstable.”

    In Arizona, he’d be called “an avid gun collector.”

    In Arkansas, he’d be called “a novice gun collector.”

    In Utah, he’d be called “moderately well prepared,” but they’d probably reserve judgment until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.”

    In Kansas, he’d be “A guy down the road you would want to have for a friend.”

    In Montana, he’d be called “The neighborhood ‘Go-To’ guy.”

    In Alabama, he’d be called “a likely gubernatorial candidate.”

    In Georgia, he’d be called “an eligible bachelor.”

    In North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina he would be called “a deer hunting buddy.”

    And in Texas he’d just be “Bubba, who’s a little short on ammo.”

  5. I don’t always own guns but when I do I always make sure they are over fed.

  6. During the great depression My grandfather, the good reverend supported himself as a poacher. supplying deer for family and small northern California community. All with a .22 cal. bolt action rifle.

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