DHS Buying More Bullets...
Just like clockwork, the Department of Homeland Security is submitting requests for more ammunition. The latest batch includes some 141,000 Hornady sniper rounds and some 75 million .40 Cal JHPs. Let us look at this objectively.
DHS just posted last week a request for "Quantity of order is for approximately 141,160 rounds of ammunition (7,058 boxes) of Hornady .308 Winchester 168gr A-MAX TAP Ammunition." This immediately went viral with some outlets alluding to the same company's 'Zombie Max' load.
This is simply untrue as the TAP series (Tactical Application Police) is marketed at law enforcement agencies and runs about $25-ish per box of 20 retail. The Z-Max, while in 168-grain as well, it's marketed differently.
The 141,000 rounds of ammunition is a drop in the bucket when you realize that the DHS encompasses the 6000-odd agents of the HSI (if you dont know what that is), the 38,000-member US Coast Guard whose ranks includes elite airborne HITRON marksman units and Deployable Operations Group teams responsible for counter terrorism on the waterways.
Add to this the CBP and Secret Service. The latter's Counter-Sniper unit, consisting of 100 of the best shooters you've never heard of (it's the *secret* service) burn through thousands of rounds a week making sure that there will never be another Lee Harvey Oswald.
Basic LE sniper courses can burn through 500 rounds in a week with each marksman needing thousands more per year for sustainment training. Therefore, with the .308 accounted for there still leaves the question of...
What about all that .40 cal...
The GAO reports this month that the DHS plans to buy an additional 75-million rounds of ammunition this year, mainly in 180-grain Federal .40S&W but also a good bit of 357, 9mm, 12 gauge, 38SPL, 7.62x51mm and .223. This figure is actually about a quarter less than what the department uses per year, and has been declining since 2009.
(While the most common single load is generically boxed Federal .40S&W, the DHS uses more than a half dozen calibers and flavors of small arms ammo)
The report stated that, "As of October 2013, DHS estimates it had approximately 159 million rounds in inventory, enough to last about 22 months to meet the training and operational needs of its firearm-carrying personnel.
(The HSI patch identifies this well-armed DHS agent as a member of Homeland Security Investigations which is the lead agency for combating a number of different border and customs violations)
From fiscal years 2008 through 2013, DHS purchased an average of 109 million rounds of ammunition for training, qualification, and operational needs, according to DHS data. DHS's ammunition purchases over the 6-year period equates to an average of 1,200 rounds purchased per firearm-carrying agent or officer per year. Over the past 3 fiscal years (2011-2013), DHS purchased an average of 1,000 rounds per firearm-carrying agent or officer and selected DOJ components purchased 1,300 rounds per firearm-carrying agent or officer."
(The Coast Guard, besides policing US waters, also embarks on NATO and US Navy ships to fight piracy and drug runners in far off lands)
The 1200-1300 round quantity allows for DHS standard quarterly qualifications as well as monthly practice. Think about it, if you go to the range 16 times, a year (about once every three weeks) that's just 80-ish rounds per visit. Yes, this is often more than what local county and municipal LE have to shoot in a year, but hey, it's the Feds.
(Air Marshals have to train to make very high pressure shots)
Of course you take into account that some agents, officers, or Coasties have multiple weapons and may have to qualify with 3-4 different platforms and that amount of rounds gets even tighter.
And while you have some DHS personnel in regulatory type jobs may shoot much less, there are tactical units like some of the crack CBP, HSI, and USCG teams will shoot far more than that. Remember, DHS also includes groups like the Federal Air Marshal Service and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers-, which burn through pallets of bullets.
Last year the huge department bought just 84-million rounds, less than that 109-million it expends per year in training and qualification to eat up some of the surplus rounds it was sitting on. This coming year, it will likewise be buying less, relying even more on the existing stockpile.
The Border Patrol pistol teams regularly carry the top positions in the national Police Shooting Championships...and the average agent gets lots of trigger time as well.
Besides training, the DHS needs to maintain round for those occasional times when they are needed operationally. The Border Patrol was involved in no less than 1600 use of force incidents between 2010 and 2012 and has even seen hot service in Afghanistan (!) while the Coast Guard regularly has to use firearms both in the war on drugs and in counter piracy overseas, and the HSI often engage in gunplay in the course of fighting ever growing incursions from foreign based drug cartels.
So yes, 75-million rounds sounds like a lot, but to an organization with some 240,000 employees in more than twenty agencies, it is all in a day's work.
Still, I'd settle for a tenth of that ammo in .22LR...