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  • Rowan

How much ammo do I really need?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

I might be the only firearms instructor to tell you that you might have too much ammo. That's right, I said it. I run into so many people that have thousands and thousands of rounds stored up and I wonder if they have put much thought into why.

Now let me be clear, when I say ammo I am talking about self-defense ammo. You know, the kind of stuff that is too expensive to shoot at the range, the stuff you shoot a few times and then store away for emergencies.

I totally understand that people want to be prepared for the worst, whether civil unrest, natural disaster, alien invasion, zombies, whatever your apocalypse of choice. I also hear from many people that they believe having stockpiles of ammo will be great for bartering in the event the proverbial crap hits the fan.

Let me explain a few reasons why I don't believe you are doing yourself any favors by spending tons of money on hoarding high-quality self-defense ammo.

Bartering - In a true end-of-the-world or grid-down civil unrest situation, just how much ammo do you think you would need to defend yourself? The standard loadout for infantry soldiers in wartime is approximately seven

30-round magazines, or 210 rounds. Keep in mind this is for a soldier going into a warzone and utilizing a combat strategy involving using massive amounts of suppressive fire to pin down an enemy so they can be hit with bombs or artillery. Unless you have your own artillery emplacement in your backyard I'm going to assume that is not a viable option. If civilization is collapsing I can guarantee that the fastest way to get yourself killed will be to run around every day loaded down with ammo looking for a firefight. The average law enforcement and civilian shooting involves less than 10 rounds fired. If you find yourself needing thousands of rounds of self-defense ammo I would suggest you are making poor and dangerous choices. I would imagine that in a realistic situation, the people who already had firearms and ammo will find they have plenty and would much rather barter for things like food, water, and medical supplies.

Utility - If things have hit the fan you will have very few uses for any ammo at all. I've outlined how few rounds would realistically be used to defend yourself but consider the fact that getting range time in during a disaster is not going to happen. Even if you have large amounts of private property shooting off rounds will just draw attention to yourself and advertise the fact that you do have guns and ammo. This might be attractive to those who do not.

So how much ammo do you need then?

I would suggest being honest with yourself and having a realistic amount of self-defense ammo for the situation you are preparing for. Beyond that don't worry about stacking up thousands of rounds, they won't expire if you don't use them right away.

As for practice ammo, I would buy when you can get it for good prices but don't just stack it up, go shoot it! Would you rather have 5000 rounds of 9mm range ammo sitting around in the middle of violent riots or the skillset you could have developed training with those 5000 rounds?

I will say it is good to buy in bulk to protect yourself when ammo prices go insane but all the ammo in the world does you no good if you don't get a chance to shoot it.

Overall firearms and ammo are just one small facet of being prepared. Don't miss the forest for the trees and forget about all the other factors like food, water, shelter, sanitation, medicine, communication, etc.

Remember, be realistic!

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