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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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