How Much Ammo DO you need

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With the suddenly mad scramble to find ammunition in the past few months, one must take a step back and ask yourself the hard question. Shed light on the shadows, pull out the man behind the curtain, and talk to that elephant in the room. Just how much is enough?

Well, Mr Owl, let's find out.

The One Year Rule of thumb
If you own a firearm that is anything but a wallhanger, you really should have at least a one-year supply of fodder for it. Now one person's idea of a year may vary widely from the next. Ask yourself not how much you shoot your firearm, but rather how much you would like to shoot if all the stars lined up.

For hunting rifles and shotguns that you do not shoot at the range regularly, a couple boxes to ensure your pattern is good (on a scatter gun) or your scope is still zeroed (on your rifle) plus whatever you plan to use in a year of hunting is the minimum. For plinking guns, such as that favorite little Ruger 10/22, your Beretta Neo, or Marlin Camp Carbine, do the math and multiply how often you would like to go in a year by how many rounds you typically shoot through said fun gun. You need to stock at least this much ammo.

Then there are the needs of the firearms that you depend on for your family's protection.

Training needs

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In 2000, just before the 9/11 and the Global War on Terrorism shot the demand for ammunition up by some 500%, the US Army used right at 205-million rounds of 5.56mm ammunition to train the 474,000 active duty and 301,140 National Guardsmen on Uncle's payroll. This breaks down to about 250 rounds per soldier per year to accomplish the minimum amount of training. Of course, active duty SF units will shoot far more per solider than will a reserve water purification unit, but you get the point.

In law enforcement terms, most departments shoot a 50-round qualification course quarterly in daylight conditions and at least one additional course under low-light conditions. This breaks down to about 250 rounds per officer per year to accomplish the minimum amount of training. Of course, many departments shoot more than this-- but some tragically shoot far less.

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If you plan to use a firearm for defensive purposes and are not shooting 250 rounds per year in regulated practice through it, you are failing to meet the minimum. With that in mind, you need this amount of ammunition on hand for a year's training to stay sharp. This is over and beyond what you have on hand for...


It's a funny world and your never know what could happen. Even if you discount fantasy such as zombie outbreaks (shameless plug), Red Dawn, alien attack, Godzilla, and invasions by MS13 drug dealers, there is still the ever-present specter of civil unrest. In just the past two decades, we have seen the lawlessness that followed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the LA Riots, "The Battle in Seattle." You don't want to get caught in circumstances beyond your control with empty ammo cans. If the current crisis tells us anything, it is that you cannot depend on being able to go to your local big box if the going gets tough and find what you need. Others will have long ago beat you too it.

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For these unseen events, a second year's supply of ammunition is a good hedge, and maybe a third for trading. The term ballistic wampum wasn't coined during this crisis, but the effects of it are being seen firsthand. I've seen people make obscene deals for bricks of 22LR in the past few weeks.

Personally, I like to have enough ammo on hand to make furniture out of it. But hey, your mileage may vary.

As the motto goes, Paratus et duro (Prepare and Endure).

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March 22, 2013  •  05:50 PM
I am going to plug my rule of thumb which adjusts for the cost of the ammo and the rifle...for example if u have 22LR one expects to have more rounds than if your rifle is 50 BMG.
And also the cost of a rifle has an impact a hard core NiCorred $2600 rifle should be probably be supported by twice as much ammo than a $1300 rifle.
It also means the owner is more likely to afford this extra stash.

So here is my rule of thumb:
Have as much ammo on hand as the cost is of your respective firearm. Because a gun is a "system" of ammo and firearm one needs to have a balance.
So for a combination of training and long term defense likely demands the same be spent on both.

So I will support a $1300 BCM with ammo that cost me $1300. A $800 AK with AK Ammo that costs me $800 etc etc.
March 22, 2013  •  06:08 PM
March 23, 2013  •  06:30 PM
What Chris is REALLY saying is, if you just HAVE to tell somebody how much ammo you have and sorta why, BACK INTO a multi-part mathematically supported, irrefutable, and satisfactorily confounding explanation. One that erases the stigma of you as a paranoid sociopathic conspiracy-theory-advocating gun-nut survivalist hoarder; but I repeat myself.

When done, your rational justification will have proven you to be a thoughtful, organized, member of the community at large in good standing as well as the up-and-coming man about town if not the most eligible bachelor already.
March 24, 2013  •  10:17 PM
@MattShlock My thoughts exactly!
March 25, 2013  •  12:47 AM
Here's a rule that may be close for a few of us. Have enough ammo on hand to equal the value of the gun....for each gun. Got a $500 shotgun...have $500 worth of shells. I think if nothing else, it's a good start.
March 27, 2013  •  06:43 PM
Nobody should tell me how much I can have. I need 2000 rnds of 7.62 X 39 and 500 rnds of .40 in storage. After that I will shoot what I can find. Usually reloads although I get nervous about the .40 s&w because I have gotten some incredibly hot rounds from people who reload a lot. No sqibs so far thank God.
April 23, 2013  •  12:37 PM
This shortage goes directly against the law of "supply&demand". And with rampant unemployment I cannot fathom any reason for manufacturers to keep from hiring enough employees to fill the demand for supply ?? I REALLY can't comprehend this easily workable situation ?? How can gun manufacturers weather this ? Is this a backdoor to gun controll ? I hear the only option is to get to Walmart at 4:00 A.M. and hope a truck comes ,then hope it has ammo then hope it has the ammo you need!! DE OPPRESSO LIBRE.....
April 23, 2013  •  12:45 PM
@bluez Yet the quality of the ammo effects the math for your rule. I will happily pay for quality but not be gouged! I agree with your basic premise ! I will only fire brass . No steel or bi-metal for this 2nd generation SF'R.
April 23, 2013  •  12:46 PM
@LYPNELSON Irish Coffee ! LOL
April 23, 2013  •  12:53 PM
@warfinge I'm in the same club. 7.62x39 & .40's . Wish I could afford a nice thermal scope as well. I'll have to keep dreaming on that ,LOL!