Once you pick your flavor of ammo as we did earlier this week, how much of it should we have on hand? Some people say that the most handgun ammunition that you need on hand is 250 or 500 rounds. That’s ridiculous. I have more than that in any given caliber.

For starters, there are two types of ammo: range ammo and war shots. PewPew Tactical recommends 500 rounds as a starting point, with 150 of those rounds being war shots. I still think that’s low. So what do I consider to be a good amount of ammo?

For range ammo, I buy in bulk because it’s cheaper, meaning in 1,000 round cases. If I find a good deal, I snap it up. That’s how I scored 9mm FMJ for 15 cents a round back in January of 2020, when I got 2,000 rounds for $300. Of course, that was pre-COVID. Good luck getting 9mm at that price now.

For starters, .22lr comes in bricks of 500 rounds. I own a few .22 firearms, both pistols and rifles. You will seldom see me with less than a couple of thousand rounds of .22 lying about. Of course, there is really no such thing as a “war shot” with .22lr. A brick of .22 will cost you about $30 at today’s prices, making it the cheapest way to shoot. It’s also great for squirrels and rats. That’s why I keep a bunch on hand.

When it comes to range ammo, I try to stock a minimum of 500 rounds per caliber. For the high use calibers of 9mm and .45, I find that 1,000 rounds on hand is a minimum.

For defensive handguns, we need to consider war shots. For semi-autos, I try to keep a minimum of 500 war shots per handgun. For revolvers, 150 war shots per handgun. So if I have a pair of 9mm handguns, that’s 1,000 rounds.

When we get into 5.56mm and 7.62x51mm, we get into a whole different ballgame. For the AR, all I stock in 5.56mm is Green Tips. I don’t do different war shots and range ammo, because I want my war shots to perform identically to my range ammo. For that reason, I try to keep a minimum of 5,000 rounds on hand of 5.56mm.

Likewise for the 7.62x51mm, but my round count there is lower simply because it is more expensive and takes up more room. So I want my minimum there to be no less than 2,500 rounds. With the 7.62, I look for nothing but the 147 grain. That way, every round is similar in performance to every other round.

For shotguns, all I have are 12 gauges. I stock 250 defense rounds in buckshot and slug, and 250 rounds of #7 shot (for hunting).

Toss in a few smoke grenades and a couple of pepper grenades, and the fire marshal’s office will shit themselves if they ever find out about that stash.

So as you can see, that means a lot of ammo on hand. We are talking about more than 20,000 rounds of ammo. I didn’t get there by buying it all at once. I just buy ammo on a regular schedule, buy a case at a time when I do buy, and try to get more than I shoot. Eventually, you get a decent stockpile.

Categories: Firearms


Michael · May 20, 2023 at 6:25 am

The IRA might disagree about the 22 long rifle not being a “War Shot”.

Every tool has its use. Sometimes you work with what you have.

If you’re in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

Elrod · May 20, 2023 at 7:14 am

I’ll second Michael’s comment; 40 grains at 1200 FPS through a suppressed rifle can be quite useful out to about 75 meters.

As for ammo, especially War Shots, we’ll never see pre-Covid prices again (I need a time machine….) and should Things Get Sporty resupply will go to zero, except, perhaps for 5.56 and 7.62X51 “in limited quantities.”

    Divemedic · May 20, 2023 at 8:02 am

    Any bullet is deadly- even range ammo. That doesn’t mean that I am going to advocate that they become your first line of offense.

    Of course resupply will go to zero- except what you get from enemy forces. That is why I stock every major pistol caliber. Every cop in the country is driving around with a couple of boxes of ammo in his car. Should things become sporty, there is always that.
    That’s one of the reasons why I have considered 7.62×39. If the UN should come, there is a fair chance that this is what they will bring with them.
    That’s the same reason why I have the NATO standard 5.56 and 7.62×51. If things get sporty, those calibers are the ones most likely to be around in large quantities.

      Elrod · May 20, 2023 at 7:01 pm

      That’s kinda what I meant with “resupply will go to zero, except, perhaps for 5.56 and 7.62X51 “in limited quantities.” as in, the standard loadout is 180 rounds of 5.56 (6 mags) and 7.62X51 comes in 200 round belts, one per each.30 cal can, most likely all delivered to your neighborhood for free (for various values of “free).

      RE: 7.62X39, I don’t know how much it’s worthwhile keeping on hand; certainly, some, however one measures “some,” but it is undoubtedly worthwhile having a quality (and zeroed) dispenser or two for it and something in the way of spare parts for them. Which is why I didn’t dispose of my .40 S&W dispensers when that caliber fell out of favor, and still have “some” ammo on hand for them.

WallPhone · May 20, 2023 at 10:06 am

If you are limited to indoor ranges, ensure your range’s traps and rules allow green tips.

It's just Boris · May 20, 2023 at 1:42 pm

So combining thoughts from this post with the magazine storage …

I suppose could also express a target number of rounds-on-hand in terms of number of times one could fill all of the magazines one has, as well.

Gryphon · May 20, 2023 at 3:56 pm

Leaving aside the trite “You can never have Too Much Ammo, I have always tried to keep a Minimum of 1,000 Rounds in each Caliber (for the past 30 Years or so) and now, as I have been selling (privately) a number of odd-caliber Guns with what Ammo I had for them, I’m putting that $$ and More, as possible, into Combat Loads for 9, .45, 5.56 and 7.62 NATO. Hope to have at least 2,000 of those Calibers by the end of ’23 (or before the Zombie Apocalypse begins…)
Don’t forget the Magazines – and keep them Loaded, too!

    Elrod · May 20, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    RE: “…selling (privately) a number of odd-caliber Guns ….”

    You might want to hang onto one or two of those odd ducks, just in case. One never knows when a gun in a somewhat-less-than-common-caliber might be the only thing for which ammo is available. A Snively-Farnsworth .316 rimfire, probably not since only two were ever made, and the guy at Kentucky Ballistics may have one of the five 4-bores east of the Mississippi that’s not in a museum, but a 7.65 Luger might turn out to be useful sometime. Maybe.

      Gryphon · May 22, 2023 at 1:53 pm

      I did keep the Westinghouse-Nagant (US Made) 1915T Long Rifle in 7.62R. Got 2,000 Rounds of Sovietski Steel-Case, and another 1200 of S&B Commercial Brass with both Ball and Lead-Tip Rounds that could be Reloaded. And a Thompson-Center .50-cal. Frontloader.

dave in pa. · May 21, 2023 at 8:19 pm

well, I tend to buy by the case. either 1000 or 500 rounds at a time. and I like keeping the shelfs stocked. so, if I see a good deal on ammo I use, I will buy it if I have the funds to hand.
if it is a really good deal, I and I don’t have the funds on hand, I used the damn credit card, and pay it off as fast as I can.
I do like the PMC “battel packs” for storage in my old paint buckets. never had anyone look twice at them either.
I write stuff like “back room” or porch on them.
and as others have said before, ammo goes a lot faster when you getting shot at. learned that a long time ago in the army.
there is always some fool blasting away at full auto that runs dry. anyway. for your carry weapon, you should have at least 6 magazines. I carry 2 and keep 4 in my truck. plus a box of ammo to reload them. ball ammo kills very well. you just have to shoot them in the right spot. or better yet. try like hell not to be in that bad spot !
if my house was raided, they would go nuts with the amount of ammo I keep on hand. and if it is stored right, it will last a very long time. back in the late 1990’s we shot up a bit of his dad’s stash of ammo that he got back in the 1950’s.
it all went bang.
ammo is not like milk. and it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

Dick Tickles · May 21, 2023 at 8:41 pm

Can’t really say how much is the correct minimum, but .22 and 9mm is so cheap that I can’t see a reason not to have 20k of .22 and 2k of 9mm.

The likely reality is that at some point we will run out of ammo and since some here hate the prospect of reloading, the next best option is black powder muzzleloaders, specifically revolvers given their capacity and in the case of the Remington 1858, speed of reloading.

A .45 round ball at 900 fps is still decently effective, a pound of powder would last at least 175 shots (more if you use less powder) at 40 grains per charge, percussion caps can be made at home (kits are available), and round balls can be bought for around 10 cents. It’s meant for when you’ve exhausted all your cartridge ammo and the muzzleloaders don’t require a background check.

liberty · May 23, 2023 at 1:10 pm

.40 S&W is an interesting centerfire caliber. Not so popular, so is typically a bit more expensive. But in panic/shortage times it can be cheaper, and it sells out slowly. I’ve seen many almost empty ammo shelves during panics that still have .40 S&W stocked.

    Divemedic · May 23, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    That, and my M&P40 can convert to 357Sig or 9mm with a barrel change.

Chris · May 23, 2023 at 8:31 pm

Just throwing this out there.. to Think about.

God help ya if ya gota move quick.

Ask me how I know? Ok The X.

    Divemedic · May 23, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    Same goes for anything that you stock- food, ammo, guns, all of the stuff we keep. If I gotta go quick, things are bad.
    Why? because people who bug out are called refugees.

      Tree Mike · May 24, 2023 at 12:32 pm

      People that can’t bug out, will be either lucky or dead. We’ve always been lucky, but dead is better than LOTS of other conditions. Not worried about the here after, gave that to the Lord, I have too much other shit to worry about. Can’t remember the the old writers name from Gun Cranks, but he said it for me, paraphrasing: “I’m like a tank with a track blown, I’ll be able to pivot and shoot, but the fight will likely start and stop right there.” Unless I’m lucky enough to shuffle off to cover.
      Everybody here is either ancient and/or decrepit, and I’m in the best shape. We’ll see what happens. What ever it is, will be interesting.

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