Adequate Sufficiency

Today I’m going to talk about ammo — specifically, looking at ammo purchases realistically, and tailoring your ammo buys to fit your needs.  (Do not fall out of your chair;  yes, this is Kim and I haven’t been kidnapped.)  Let’s look at the thing via ammo type and likely need.

Rimfire:  As all my Readers should know by now, I consider the .22 to be a household commodity.  Everyone should have at least one (pistol and rifle), and ammo supplies should be gauged in terms of how much you’re likely to use over the next couple of years as a baseline.  If you think about .22 ammo as salt, you’ll see what I mean.  Pretty much everyone has at least 2lbs of salt in their pantry — even though your use thereof is measured in sprinkles — and realistically, that’s probably well over a year’s supply.  Ditto .22 ammo.  I’d consider 10 bricks (5,000 rounds) to be the absolute minimum you should have on hand.  You may not go plinking that often, but when you do, you’re going to dump at least a brick in a single session — I know I do — and the most embarrassing situation I can imagine is turning to your fellow-plinker and saying, “I’m sorry but I’ve run out of ammo;  we should probably go home now” when there’s at least a couple hours of daylight left.  (I get chills of shortage fear just thinking about it.)  The terms “running out” and “.22 ammo” should never occur together in a sentence.

Subset:  .22 Mag — I happen to love this (far too) expensive rimfire ammo, but I will confess that I only shoot enough to keep my eye in.  I have a couple-three thousand rounds on hand, just in the event I’m invited to go groundhog shooting in the woods, or something.

Hunting:  This can cover all kinds of hunting, and all sorts of cartridges.  What this means is that you don’t have to have 10,000 rounds of .30-30 or .30-06 on hand (unless you’re a handloader, in which case go nuts, with my blessing).  Let’s be honest for a moment, and suggest that you’re not going to go hunting every other day for a year with your Marlin lever rifle or Remington 700.  So how much ammo is “enough”?  Here I think that five years’ worth of ammo — call it 10 boxes (200 rounds) — is a decent minimum: your baseline, as it were.  I have about four hunting rifles in different chamberings, and I think I have just over 300 rounds for each one.  Frankly, that’s not going to be exhausted anytime soon.

Subset:  “Hobby” rifles (in my case, mil-surps, but for others, it may be bench / competition rifles).  Mil-surps don’t require a massive stockpile because you don’t shoot them that often.  I think I have about 200 rounds each of the various chamberings I own, and I think that’s sufficient given how seldom I shoot them.
Competition rifles are another story.  Not only do you need lots of ammo, but you’ll be tinkering with loads, bullet type and what have you.  Be they bench rifles, cowboy action or 3-gun sets, you’re going to need a ton of ammo — at least enough to cover a couple years’ worth of competition at your current rate of involvement.  Figure 300 rounds of 5.56 for your AR-15, times (say) twenty competitions per year, times two… I think you get my point.  Twenty-five or even fifty thousand rounds in your ammo locker is not an excessive stash — if one can call any ammo stash “excessive” (I don’t).
Shotgunning (clays or birds) is another activity that requires an awful lot of ammo if one competes or hunts extensively.  (Mr. Free Market has been known to buy shotgun ammo by the pallet before the bird season begins Over There, because his trigger pull count is prodigious.  When he goes on safari in Africa, however, he seldom takes — or needs — more than a couple boxes of .375 H&H.)

SHTF:  This is the thorniest question of all:  how much AR, AK or FN ammo (5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm Commie or 7.62x51mm NATO) is “enough”?  Forget all that Red Dawn and “zombie invasion” bullshit.  What we’re talking about is a time when law and order breaks down or disappears completely, and you’re forced to be completely self-reliant in terms of self- and home defense.  Worst of all, in such a situation, is that you have no idea of its likely duration — a week?  a month? a year?  I’ll be completely honest:  I have about 5,000 rounds of “39” on hand, even though I know that I’m never likely to need anything like that much in the above scenario.  But I’ll also admit that I’d be much more comfortable with 20,000 rounds (or even more), if for no other reason than that I don’t trust our beloved government not to attempt to ban “military” calibers (as various governments have done all over the world since the early 1900s).  Which is why I continue to add to that amount, buying more when I have the funds, and being a little less profligate at my range sessions.  (It sucks, but as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m being realistic.)

I’m really helped by the fact that I bought a ton of ammo during the Good Times (early GWB years) when ammo was both cheap and readily available, which is why I don’t have to worry too much now.  I’ve pretty much settled into a “shoot 100, buy 150” pattern, unless one of the ammo outlets has a really good deal going.

To no small degree, the cost of ammo today has made it really difficult to amass a decent sufficiency — I’d hate to be a young man starting out from zero — which is why I’m building things up.  We should all be doing it For The Children© (in my case the Son&Heir) so that it won’t be too difficult for them.

Some may argue that the numbers I’ve listed (using the “likely need” and “historical use” criteria to set those levels) are completely inadequate, and that’s fine.  What I don’t want to do is shame anyone for having less, or make them feel overwhelmed by the amount of ammo needed for that adequate sufficiency.  But you know, nothing makes you feel more secure than a full ammo locker…


  1. Those seem like solid numbers to me. I will say, though, that after reloading for years, and finally buying a progressive press last year, I’ve really stopped worrying about how much ammo I have or rationing how much I shoot based on cost. Instead I’ll buy 5000-10000 primers in the sizes I need, the same in bullets, 20lb of powder, and then I won’t worry or think about it until I get down to around 25% of what I bought. It’s far cheaper, fun, and lets you think about shooting rather than ammo supplies.

    And when I say cheaper, I’m not kidding; I shoot a lot of 38 special. Around here a box of factory fmj is $38-$50. I can reload my own for around $10, and it’s exactly to my specifications.

    1. Yep.

      I’m a competitive pistol shooter, and just counting .38 Special and 9mm I go through about 7,000 rounds per annum. I dont keep a large supply of ready made ammo in those calibres, but I have about 3 years worth of components (ie powder, primers, projectiles) in stock. I have two progressive presses set up, one for each calibre, and can make about 300 rounds per hour. My rich friends have better kit, and one told me recently that he’d spent a rainy weekend making 9,000 rounds of ammo on his press.

      Not forgetting the rimfire, I also have about 10,000 rounds of .22LR/.22WMR/.17HMR on hand.

      To top it all off, I live in the Socialist Tyranny of Australia. Can you imagine what its like when I mention to my wife’s crazy liberal friends that I have a dozen handguns and rifles in the house, along with 10,000 rounds of assorted ammunition and several kilograms of explosives? I’ll just say that hilarity often ensues.

      1. In spite of the schadenfruede the hilarity generates, given the nature of Liberal Lefties (sorry, redundancy there) and the Leftward shift in Aussie Guv, I would not mention your guns. Sooner or later one of the self described do-gooders will want to score virtue points and out you to Big Brother when your stuff is fodder for confiscation.

  2. I think Kipling said something to the effect of “you can never have too many books, too much ammunition or too many red wines.”

    The only time I think you can have too much of any of those is when you’re trying to move.

    I don’t see having ammunition on hand as bad at all. I always wish I had bought more when it was less expensive. The fact is that the price of things always goes up over time. The price of things has rarely crashed to the point of being utterly worthless other than useless “collectibles.” Ammunition isn’t a collectible.

    You’re right about 22lr ammunition. Prior to the Obama drought, I stocked up on that because even during hard times we could take a revolver, pistol or rifle to the range and shoot rather cheaply. I bought a 22lr slide kit for a 1911 so that I could practice with a carry gun for short money. It’s well worth the investment.

    Foolish ideas and government bureaucrats and politicians typically go hand in hand. Could they really ban firearms in miitary calibers? .30-06 has been in military inventory and the rifleman’s locker for over a hundred years. Maybe it’s out of military inventory now. Other calibers such as 5.56/.223 7.62Nato/.308 are quite common in both the military and civilian use. Same with .38 special, 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP. Confiscation can only be coerced if there is a registration. Even in states that do have registration, which I believe is against Federal law, these registrations are not accurate. I dunno, they can try it but as we have seen, the anti rights folks can only push too far. If they nudge gently enough, they’ll get compliance like they did in Connecticut with their magazine and rifle registration schemes. I just hope the citizenry wakes up soon enough to do the heavy lifting that is needed to stop these anti rights folks. It’s a lot harder to resist when you’re in a re-education camp, stripped of pretty much all of your property than it is before they make you wear a star or triangle or some other marker.


  3. Love that photo of your on hand stock.

    There is one more aspect to consider and that is the use of wampum – trade and barter for goods and services. It is absolutely proven in war that trade goods have far more value than fast inflating or otherwise worthless currency.

    Double or triple on hand reserves of “salt” in .22 and .223, both the most ubiquitous ways to provide meat and discourage theft, hence excellent for barter. Like Kim, I tend to like historical arms, there is more variety needed, alas most vanished in that horrific storm on lake Michigan back in ’98.

  4. Another consideration is to have enough ammo for training in times of shortage which have been recurring over the last several decade. Fortunately, cheap FMJ in your chosen defensive calibers will do.

  5. Back in the day, The Woodpile Report observed that in a general collapse, like the one you envision, ammo is also currency and trade goods, e.g., 22’s for dimes, 9 mm for dollars, etc.

  6. One thing I’ll note is that I store our ammo in the basement. While out here in NW Wyoming our basement is bone-dry, there’s always the possibility of flooding from something, even just a busted water pipe. Almost all of our ammo is kept in .50-cal mil-surplus or new-made ammo cans. I read somewhere on the ‘net a few years ago about somebody who’d had a flood in their basement, and their ammo cans kept all of the contents dry despite being underwater for an extended period of time, so I’m hoping those gasketed cans work well.

    This fall Cabela’s had a sale on their new ammo cans. I’d bought one or two of them before and they are basically indistinguishable from military except that they’re brand-new. The price on those is usually around 20 bucks, but they had them marked down to $10 each, with a purchase limit of 10. I bought ten, got free shipping, and with WY sales tax it came to $104. I can’t find even battered-up mil-surp these days for that price.

    All of my 7.62×39 is wooden crates containing two spam-cans (including the little steel can opener in each one) so I don’t have to worry about those getting wet either.

    The second biggest cause of damage to long-term ammo storage is temperature, but the basement keeps it between 60°F and 70°F year ’round.

  7. Spot on. +1 on comments as well.

    Yeah, when it’s cheap, stack it deep. Back around 1990, we lived in Chico, CA. Not far away was an outfit that had both retail and wholesale operations on their property, their ranch, and had been in operation for decades. So they decided to shut down the wholesale end and had sale on a Saturday. I bought two cases of Winchester Super-X copper plated 22LR, one solid, one hollow point, $99 each. Still have “some”.

    Obviously the ideal approach is to reload what you shoot and maintain your “reserve”. Equally obvious is that not everyone can do that. Also for what it would cost these days to get properly set up to load even a single caliber, one could buy a fair amount of ammo. Towards that end, sign up for email from Midway USA. Every couple of weeks they offer 48 hours of free shipping. A few weeks back, I bought some CCI Blazer 9mm on sale for $.12.99/box of 50. Free shipping orders over $75.

    Another current issue is availability of components to reload with. Primers are just now starting to become available, especially Large Rifle primers. Prices are nose bleed. All of which leads me to this–

  8. The photo of the stash is undersupplied, though it’s really pretty.

    Like others note, I keep mine in ammo cans. I don’t have an good count, and I have a lot of military/mil-surp calibers. I try to have 1000 rounds for each (.303, 8mm Mauser, 7.5 French/swiss, 30-06, etc.). But I’ll admit that aside from 30-06, I’m well under that. The stuff has gotten just too pricy, hard to find, and the annual WWII shoot obviously cuts into supplies. If anyone knows a reasonable supply of 7.7 jap for less than trading a small child or a limb, please let me know.

    In the regularly useful/SHTF calibers, i.e., .22, 9mm, 5.56, .308, 12 gauge – the SHTF calibers due to usefulness and ample availability (and sorry Kim, as much as I like 1911s, .45 is rapidly becoming an obsolete round), I’d approach it this way:

    Assess what you think is reasonable assuming things go bad, and double it. Then double that.

    Things WILL go TU at some point (history cannot be denied), and it will be useful. If not for your own use, as barter. If not for you, for your kids or grandkids. And NEVER register firearms. NEVER, any law notwithstanding ( and I say that acknowledging I’m on an NFA registry for a suppressor , the only reasons I’m considering complying with the ridiculous ruling on arm braces). If we’re to have that second civil war some keep talking about (and I deeply hope they’re wrong) let’s have it now, so my grandkids don’t have to.

    BTW- it must be said here – hello, nice NSA man. Yes, I got guns. You know that already, of course; you’ve been spying enough. You have nothing to worry about – – unless, of course, you push too far. I’ll let you worry about where “too far” is.

    Back to the matter at hand:
    Should you neglect basic necessities or put yourself in financial risk to stock ammo? No. But stocking up on ammo, when it is possible, is always prudent. A extra box, over regular use, every payday is a good practice; it will quickly add up to substantial stores. There is no such thing as too much, assuming you can store it. If the floor collapses under the weight, that’s not evidence of too much; its evidence the floor needed reinforced or the stash stored in a different place. It also helps keep your local merchant of death in business. Try to buy the ammo from local business, if you can do so at reasonable prices. Cultivate a relationship with him or her. Be someone well-known at the gun shop. It can pay off in finding like-minded persons who, again, if things go TU, may be helpful in doing – well, let’s just put it at doing what needs to be done.

    Likewise, assuming you live in Free America and not behind enemy lines, and you’re not a criminal, get to know your local law enforcement. If in Free America, they are likely not your enemy, but an ally. If they’re not, you need to know that too.

    Finally, aside from ammo, make reasonable preparations. A place to go should things go TU, a bug-out bag, if appropriate (I don’t have one; I live where I’d bug out to), ready and sufficient supplies of food, fuel, shelter, and especially water. First aid and needed medications. That does not mean we should all be extreme preppers. It does mean preparing for a lack of organized society for a short time, and considering carefully you needs should “15 days to stop the spread” become “oh shit, the police aren’t doing shit anymore.” Folks in some places have experienced that during the recent George Floyd Memorial Summer of Mostly Peaceful Rioting, Arson, and Looting. You’re always your own first responder. Consider if you are your own responder, period, at least for a time. Your circumstances and geography matter a lot, and your answers will likely be different than mine. But now it the time to think about them.

    1. ” (and sorry Kim, as much as I like 1911s, .45 is rapidly becoming an obsolete round)”…

      See how tolerant I am? I even allow filthy heresies like this to be published on my blog.

      The redhead gene will die out in a couple centuries, and .45 ACP may become obsolete. Fortunately, by then I will be dead, for both eventualities.

  9. When the Earth was young and I was on college 3P International rifle team we shot a 500 rd brick of 22lr ammo each practice session. 4 to 6 hrs in the range 4 days a week.

    Real top notch folks shoot unbelievable amounts. Hopefully we all know Olympic shotgunner star Kim Rhode is suing Kalifornia over its assinine ammo purchase law. This is why. Dug up this interview article where she says she shoots 1000 shotgun shells EVERY DAY….7 DAYS A WEEK. EVERY WEEK..!!! My math abilities say that is about, roughly, approximately, sort of around … 365 THOUSAND ROUNDS A YEAR !!!!!!!! LOL..
    God Bless her…

    1. I read your attached article, and it’s outrageous what the Left is doing to law-abiding citizens in Kalifornia, while coddling or ignoring the illegal alien invasion and feral thugs on the streets.
      Kim Rhode should go shooting in Sacramento.

  10. Kim I think your inventory is in the Just About Right category and the formula of shoot a 100, buy a 150 is just good store keeping. Your post prompted me to do a quick estimate of my own stash to see where a deficit might be hiding. As it stands, I seem to have a squad-sized cache of the combat calibers, a plentitude of plinking rounds, home defense for pistol, carbine, and shotgun all covered. The only gap is my 40+ cases of 7.62×39 are missing a bang stick (never sell your last AK, especially if it a Romanian AK). All the hunters (22-250, 30.06, .308, Bushmaster 450 on an AR platform) are well provisioned, I even found a case of 5.56 tracer rounds.
    These days, my range visits are long weekends in West Virginia, Missouri or Tennessee on family farms, but I still mange to reacquaint myself with everything in the inventory during these trips.
    As far as storage, I spread the wealth, keeping a little over half with me and the other split between my brothers farms/homes.
    It keeps a body busy and that’s important.

  11. I used to keep track but a couple years ago I went on a buying spree and my inventory sheet failed to be upgraded. A friend happened upon a 12k rd load of .22 at a local swap meet for $150 so we split it in half, plus I already had about 6000 rds and I buy more when I find deals.

    I keep 4 ammo cans of 5.56, 9mm, and .22 on hand at all times and the rest are in boxes in ammo cans. .22, 5.56, 9mm, .308, .348, 12ga, I’m estimating about 30k rds all together. I’d like to double that.

  12. I’m flush on .22LR, and surprisingly on 5.45×39. Everything else is in reasonable supply. But I shoot mostly muzzle-loaders. Those suppository guns are only a passing fancy.

  13. And Western Australia is just about to impose strict limits on the amount of ammo you can have at home. No details yet released but 500 rounds in total has been bandied about.

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