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The Calibers You Need When The Grid’s Down

caliber -- balloongoesupAmmo will be in short supply during any grid-down situation, and the only rounds you’re likely to have are the boxes in your storage (which is why you should stock up more than adequately).

Even so, you may still be able to procure ammo via trade with other people, and in those cases, the ammo that was the most popular before the grid went down will be the easiest to find and trade.

Though no one can predict the future, it’s likely that these will be the most common rounds in a grid-down situation:


.22LR (also handgun): Without a doubt, this will be one of the most valuable calibers in a grid-down situation. With its popularity, low recoil, quietness and versatility, the .22 should be one of your top priorities when it comes to stocking up on ammo.

.223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO: This took up the biggest market share for rifle ammunition last year due to AR-15s being the best-selling rifles in America. If that’s not enough, this is a current military round.

.30-30 Winchester: A lot of Americans today still prefer the traditional lever guns, so there’s no doubt that the classic .30-30 will be in high demand.

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7.62x39mm: AK-47s are both feared and respected, and along with it, the 7.62x39mm. With the ban on certain imports from Russia, it’s unclear about the future of this round, but for now American manufacturers seem to be producing more than enough of it. Even if you don’t have an AK yourself, other people do, making this ammo a valuable commodity for trade.

.270 Winchester: Quite a few American shooters swear by the venerable .270 to this day, and for good reason.

Image source: GunDigest

Image source: GunDigest

.308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO: The .308 has overtaken the .30-06 as the most popular big-game hunting caliber in the lower 48, but the margin is still razor thin. Also, as a current military round, the .308 will be one of the most important calibers circulating.

7.62x54mm: Chambered for such Soviet weapons as the Mosin Nagant, a very cheap and popular surplus rifle.

.30-06 Springfield: The enduring “thirty aught-six” will remain as traditional as steak and apple pie. It may have since been phased out by the military, but that hasn’t diminished the .30-06’s popularity with everyday people. The caliber is easily available and at fair pricing.

.300 Winchester: An excellent combination of high power and high velocity, the .300 Winchester has proven itself to be worth considerable respect. Many hunters have turned to the caliber for this reason.


.410 Bore: The .410 has seen a resurgence in recent years due to the popularity of revolvers chambered for the round, such as the Taurus Judge and the S&W Governor.

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20-Gauge: When shooters demand a lot of stopping power but not the recoil of the 12-gauge, the 20-gauge is their next bet. Even if you don’t own a 20-gauge, having a box or two could tip the scales in a trade.

12-Gauge: The most popular shotgun round without a doubt is the 12-gauge. Heavily favored by the military and by civilians for hunting and home-defense, the 12-gauge easily took up the largest market share for shotgun ammunition last year.


.380 ACP: One of the most popular concealed carry rounds on the market.

.38 Special: Popular since the late 1890s, the .38 Special shows no signs of decreasing popularity. Adding to their appeal is that they can also be loaded in .357 Magnum revolvers.

9mm: Not just one of the most abundant pistol rounds, but one of the most abundant calibers of anything you can find. Affordable, accessible and versatile, the 9mm took up the biggest market share of any caliber in the United States last year. You should have a 9mm pistol without question, but even if you don’t, stock up on this caliber.

.40 S&W: Heavily favored by police departments around the country, the .40 S&W may have come a step behind the 9mm in terms of current market share, but it will still be one of the more prominent pistol calibers available.

.357 Magnum: This is the most popular chambering for large frame revolvers, bar-none. .357s also have reputations for being one-shot man stoppers, heavily contributing to their status.

.45 ACP: One of the most enduring pistol calibers of all time, the .45 ACP has a well-deserved reputation. Next to the 9mm, the .45 ACP has the biggest market share among pistol calibers.

.44 Magnum: This round is legendary for a number of reasons. In terms of accessibility, it’s expensive but still used by many shooters.

Which calibers do you believe will be most available? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. I feel that the 380, 9mm, 22, 38/357 will be the most popular hand gun ammo
    and the 223, 30-30, 30-06, 308 will be the the most popular rifle ammo
    and the 12 Gauge wins for shotguns.

    I choose a 460 S&W for my apocalypses/SHTF gun, although the weapon will chamber 3 calibers, 45LC, 454 Casull, and S&W 460, none will be easy to find in a SHTF scenario and its very costly to shoot the weapon as well.

  2. Stick with the .22 for your pistols and rifles, a time proven round that is easy and cheap to stock up on. The .308 and 30-06 are real game getters, work well on 2 legged critters too……

  3. What about a .475 Wildey? 😉

    • Better have the reloading components and tools to keep a supply of rounds for that one. With the self loading rounds its harder to keep track of spent brass as well.
      Reloading should be kept as a source for making things to go boom.

  4. .22 ammo is scarce,and has been for years.
    .30-30 is not all that popular of a caliber,except among mainly eastern U.S. deer hunters,and ammo is also scarce.
    .270 while fairly common,is another “niche” caliber like the .30-30 and -it will be nearly impossible to find in a post SHTF situation.
    Rifles- .223/5.56, .308, 7.62X39,.30-06. Maybe 7.62X54 due to the popularity of surplus Mosin Nagant rifles.
    Handguns should be in the most common calibers-which are 9mm, .45 AP,.40 S&W
    Shotguns should be in both 12 and 20 gauge
    *.410 if you have a handgun in .45LC,as it can fire .410 shells,and the .410 shotgun can also be used to fire .45LC ammo.
    Have too many uncommon caliber weapons-and you are limited to the ammo you have on hand.

  5. Yeah I agree with most of your post but 22 ammo is starting to come back the problem is everyone buying it up and some stores here are limiting the amount you can purchase per day once word gets out it’s in stock it goes quickly also find what shoots well in your large caliber rifle and stock up on that factory load or hand load it might not be around.

  6. I am thinking out loud here..If .22lr is available, by all means stock up on it, as it is THE most common round for even the most casual shooters or those who only own one firearm. It can be used in rifles and handguns alike, and while not the best choice for self defense,it’s better than nothing and it has kept many a person from going hungry by putting a critter in the stewpot. I like the positive comment on the .30-30 because I too like leverguns and many people already have one. It could function as a medium range home protector too, but as a true battle rifle go with an AR-15 or AK-47! A sniper styled rifle in .30-06,.308, or 7.62x54r Russian would offer long range protection and ammo availability, while not being as punishing with recoil as are the bigger magnums. As far as handguns, 9mm is my first choice, followed closely by 38/357 and .45acp. All will easily kill out to practical handgun range. Shotguns? 12 gauge with buckshot or slugs, unless you have fear of recoil, then a 20ga works ok. Conclusion? For my end-time SHTF senario, I want an AK-47for it’s utter reliability, a hi-capacity 9mm, and a 12ga. tactical pump, with lots of ammo for all. Just my 2cents….

  7. Whatever calibers you choose (I tend towards .22LR, .308. 7.62×39, 9 mm., and .45 cal) stick with a FEW different calibers. Choose too many and it gets real expensive to build any kind of stock. Once you build a good stockpile then acquire ammo for trading, but you can never have too much ammo!

  8. i got my two take downs 12ga & 22cal,with a take down Bow.hope it never comes down it.

  9. You did not mention the 7.62X39 is also the cartridge for the SKS rifle,very similar to the AK47.

  10. You mention the 7.62X54R as 7.62X54MM. This may confuse some who own a Mosin Nagant.

  11. You mention the 7.62X54R as the 7.62X54mm. This could confuse some Mosin Nagant owners.

  12. How about having your own reloading press? Have a stock of powder and other things for the reloading press and of course the brass will be coming from what you’ve used. You won’t run out of ammunition easily even if your defending against a horde.

  13. Correction for above. You can not and should not load a 38 with 357 rounds. The cylinder is not tapered out enough. You can go the other way and load a 357 with 38 rounds.
    If you have your 38 modified to take 357 rounds you will weaken the cylinder and over time it will crack.

  14. Hello Nicholas,
    Thanks for your nice post. Reloading press is really a nice option if anyone want to reload his/her own ammo butsome time it has some limitation. Yes I am totally agree with Rusty that we should not load a 38 with 357 rounds.

  15. I think the most important thing in grid down is something no one knows the length of time in your area that it lasts,A long peroid of time(in my opinion)probably means you won’t be able to hold down the fort,with roving bands of gangs of people,which means to me you should concentrate of as few caliber’s as you really need. in case you(especially if alone) have to hit the road.I’m solo so to me a 9mm pistol/12-gauge shotgun are my choice,yes I know the ammo is heavy but with a couple of bandolers over the body and belt and sling.I’m capable of carrying approximately 175-200shells semi comfortably with my light 40 lbs.pack.

  16. I don’t understand why most blogs,assume you will be able to barter,ammo,food water,medical supplies etc.The first thing is not to assume you will be able to barter.Maybe yes maybe no.The whole idea of being prepared(the best you can)Is not to rely on other people.

  17. Very good advice and guide to the calibers. I would add AK-47 ammo to the list: 7.62X39

  18. I have weapons in .22 cal, 9MM, .308 & 12 GA (plus a 2″ black powder cannon).

    As for bartering I own 2 portable hybrid stills. I’m very skilled at making “ahem..medicinal and fuel” alcohol. In a long term SHTF situation I could use my still products as one means to barter for ammo or whatever else I needed.

  19. Awesome Post thanks for the valuable guide to the calibers. 🙂

  20. Yeah I agree with most of your post but 22 ammo is starting to come back the problem is everyone buying it up and some stores here are limiting the amount you can purchase per day once word gets out it’s in stock it goes quickly also find what shoots well in your large caliber rifle and stock up on that factory load or hand load it might not be around.

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