A case for diversifying calibers (Ammo shortages)

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by SSGN_Doc, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member


    Some folks here could be new to firearms. Others I know are not. Many of us who have been around firearms long enough to have seen panic buys and ammo shortages, may have noticed during the last ammo crisis that many of the common calibers were very hard to find. 9mm, .223/5.56, 7.62x39 and .22 LR were bare spots on sporting goods shelves for almost a year (or more, it seems). Primers also became a scarce commodity if reloading was the backup plan.

    Often new shooters ask what the best caliber is for XX? Many recommend the 9mm when it comes to handguns, often citing, that it is super common and you can always find ammo for it.

    Well, not when every 9mm owner is trying to stockpile at the same time. More 9mm handguns to feed in the world seems to create a crisis, when there are so many to feed.

    Last panic/shortage I noted that some of the less popular calibers remained on shelves longer and came back to shelves sooner than “the most common calibers”. .40 and 10mm and .357 Sig graced the shelves of my local shops. Not cheap, but at the time, once 9mm started returning to shelves, people were paying .40 S&W and .10mm prices for it.

    So, I bought a .40 S&W. Then I added a .357 Sig barrel.

    For the last few years, as LE agencies have shifted toward 9mm, and .40 seems to have fallen from favor, .40 S&W pistols and ammo have become more reasonable in good times. Finding a used .40 for less than a comparable 9mm had been commonplace. I wonder if that may change for the next few months or years as people see there may be a reason to keep a couple calibers on hand, just because we don’t really know what ammo will still be available.
  2. sheepdawg

    sheepdawg Well-Known Member Supporter

    If you buy lots of it when it's cheap and plentiful you ain't searching for easier to find calibers during shortages. Like the old saying goes, "Buy it cheap and stack it deep."
    MstrMsn, OLD Ron, towboater and 8 others like this.

  3. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member

    And this is what those of us who have been through these before have already done. But with the newer shooters, they may not have considered this as an option. Or they may have been caught before establishing a sufficient stockpile.

    After the last shortage I would buy what I wanted for a range session, plus a few boxes, each time I bought ammo. I established enough of a stockpile that I don’t have to worry for quite a while.

    Last shortage was right after I transferred from GA to WA. I had intentionally depleted the majority of my ammo stockpile, because transporting it diagonally across the country wasn’t practical. Movers wouldn’t move it. My little 4Runner wouldn’t fit it all along with my luggage, family, dogs, etc. So...I had some pretty extensive range sessions the month before we moved.
    OLD Ron and towboater like this.
  4. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    Problem is that most folks never consider a possible shortage.

    A neighbor who is a hunter more so than a shooter has half a dozen nice hunting rifles, but I doubt that he keeps even 100 rounds, TOTAL of ammo on hand.

    I asked him about it, and he said that he still has at least a dozen "shells" of .30-06 left over from last season. If he needs more, he'll buy it when he needs it.:rolleyes:
  5. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member

    It can also be hard to predict duration. Some may have enough to keep practicing at their same consumption rate for 1-3 months. Others may have enough for 6 months or a year. If the shortages stretch to 6-12 months, folks have to consider cutting down or looking at what is available.

    Of course the flip side to this argument I have posted is that if someone only owns 1-3 calibers, they could have built a larger stockpile earlier.

    it’s also easy to say “shoulda acted earlier”. But again, if someone is having to start over or from the ground up. Added flexibility through may be a good thing, a5 least in the short term.
    hawkguy and towboater like this.
  6. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Reloading, learn to reload what you shoot the most.

    Although I do have a G20 coming, with a conversion kit, I can shoot lots of stuff in that bad boy.
    towboater likes this.
  7. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member

    I already reload, as well. But if someone is just starting out, they could find themselves in search of some of the key components like last time. Primers were hard to find, as well as some of the more popular powders.
    hawkguy and towboater like this.
  8. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

    funny...had this conversation not too long ago on another board.

    a poster was recommending using common calibers for firearms as much as possible. he was also advocating the popular calibers for SHTF. i can see the advantages of course, but there are disadvantages as well.

    but i agree with the OP.....diversifying your calibers is a smart thing to do to deflect the effects of ammo panic buying. i'm not really talking about "the end of the world"....i'm really talking more about being able to enjoy the shooting hobby, and never feeling like you can't pop a hundred rounds at the range when you want to. i also agree with the OP...in that the most common calibers vanish the quickest and return the slowest. thus, i've concluded that diversity in calibers can keep you popping paper and cans throughout the drought.

    i agree that reloading is a great choice to avoid feeling the crunch, but we simply don't all reload....having the time, space, or money can all prevent jumping into reloading. i also agree that EVERY gun enthusiast (that actually shoots regularly) should buy ammo when its cheap and available and keep a decent amount to get through the hard times.

    different calibers all offer a different experience. i like to diversify calibers and firearms (as much as my small budget allows anyway). i like to get as many different types of shooting experiences as i can. i personally don't get having 10 1911's in the same caliber, and not owning a wheel gun...or having 5 pump shotguns and no autos or break actions. but that is just me. and i really don't understand buying only the most popular calibers.

    all my opinion, everybody gets to spend their hard earned as they please.
    OLD Ron and SSGN_Doc like this.
  9. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    While looking for my 40 cal I found 850 115gr 9mm HP. I dont have any 357 sig but a barrel for the G23 is feasible. I probably have 7-8k of 22lr but I shoot a lot of it. May have to pick up some H110.
    towboater and SSGN_Doc like this.
  10. sheriffjohn

    sheriffjohn Well-Known Member Supporter

    When this quarantine thing is over I will have found, wiped, counted, sorted and boxed every blessed cartridge, bullet, primer, powder can, cleaning swab, bullet mold, empty case, cleaning rod tip, magazine, gun flint, percussion cap, choke tube, wrench, punch, swivel, sight, scope ring, scope, barrel, lock, trigger, buttplate, firing pin, hammer, frizzen, pellet, BB, shot, wads, and that's not even touching fishing stuff.

    Then I'll have to get it off the garage floor and put it all away.
    BVAL, Shopfox, OLD Ron and 3 others like this.
  11. Shopfox

    Shopfox Well-Known Member Supporter

    Right now I have a neighbor low on 9mm and 22lr. As little as they shoot, 1-2 boxes of each would see them through the drought. If they had a 357 sig and 1 box of ammo, there'd be no helping them.

    Straight up, if someone is starting new with zero stockpile, long-run having a common caliber will still be less expensive to own, stockpile, and operate. The best thing that can happen is the seasoned shooters sell them a box or 2 from their inventory till the panic subsides.

    Roughly 85% of my firearms are "common" calibers. I would not purposely make a long-term gun purchase based on a short term ammo problem. It'd be like buying a Ferrarri because my Toyota's tires are out of stock at Walmart.
    sheriffjohn and towboater like this.
  12. oO_Rogue_Oo

    oO_Rogue_Oo Well-Known Member

    This conversation has me thinking that I've finally crossed over to being a "gun collector". I've never thought of myself that way until now. I've always thought of myself as a gun enthusiast. Why the change? Well in thinking about this subject I realized that I own guns that shoot so many different calibers that I would never have to worry about having something to shoot. I didn't get here by thinking I wanted to hedge my bets when it came to finding ammo. I got here by enjoying the different characteristics of shooting each caliber.

    I'm a reloader and I also enjoy reloading for the different calibers and trying to find that premium load for each one of them. Other than rimfire, I can't remember the last time I bought factory ammo but it's at least 10 or 15 years ago. I do keep a small supply of factory ammo for all my calibers but rarely shoot any of it. Most of the common calibers I keep 1K rounds of factory ammo and 5 to 10K of reloads. The precision stuff I keep a couple of hundred rounds made up and always have components on hand to make more. I buy my components VERY frugally always looking for the best deals. Saving a penny per round is a big deal to me. When the right deal comes around I buy whether I need them of not. This insures I'm always well stocked and I can always sell to recoup my investment; generally making a profit. I have thousands of rounds that didn't cost me anything because I bought in bulk and sold off some of the excess to fund the purchase. This is easier to do and especially true of the high dollar calibers.

    I remember reading these types of posts during the Obama scare; when I wasn't nearly as well stocked; and thinking to myself "next time THAT is going to be me". So when the dust settled I put a few of my other hobbies on hold for a little while and set about doing it. Just food for thought.

    On the other side of this coin there are a bunch of first time panic buyers out there who ran to the local gun shop bought a gun and a box or two of ammo and have tucked them away in the closet; feeling safe a secure now that they are prepared. They have no further need of ammo and will soon return to normal lives, forgetting about the gun in the closet. The rest of the rush on ammo is US. Gun people who suddenly realized they've been caught with their pants down yet again. Buying ammo at the wrong time and at the wrong price. WE need to stop; let the market settle and THEN slowly buy building a stock. What I've been hearing is that prices will NOT return to pre panic levels. That yes they will drop but not to previous levels. So the more we inflate the price now the higher the prices will be when they do drop. More food for thought.
    Shopfox and OLD Ron like this.
  13. OLD Ron

    OLD Ron Well-Known Member

    To me there are a few groups of gun owners .
    A stockpile of ammo is not for everyone . If you shoot a lot it is nice to have a lot . If it is to protect your self or home .... a few boxes is enough . If you see the zombies coming you panic buy guns & ammo .
    Here is one I wonder about ..... if the Gov. is talking about taking away your gun ..... why would you go buy one ? They know you bought it .
    towboater and locutus like this.
  14. RaySendero

    RaySendero Active Member

    Not pistol ammo, but rifle:

    In the previous ammo shortage,
    I could find 270Win most any place, any time?!
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  15. PaBushMan

    PaBushMan Well-Known Member

    I been stocking up since the last panic shortage. Some of my friends asked why do i have so much ammo? Now some are asking me to sell them ammo. I tell em now you know why i have so much ammo on hand. And no i can not sell you reloads. Maybe they will learn now? Nah probably not lol.
    OLD Ron, Rifling82, towboater and 3 others like this.
  16. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

    this is really what i mean. and yes...most ammo on shelf is "common" ammo...but much of it is not the MOST popular calibers, and sticks around during ammo wipes.

    i learned my lesson through observation. last panic...virtually no 22, 9mm, 5.56, 7.62...for a freaking year! never saw 30-30, 20g, 243, 270, 357, 22 mag or other such calibers completely disappear...made me wish i had a lot of calibers i didn't.

    i would never advocate buying a gun solely for this reason. but my point is, you get a completely diff. shooting experience from a 30-30 lever or 270 bolt than from an AR or AK. that diversity is part of what i love about shooting anyway....having a bit of ammo available on the shelf in a panic? cherry on top.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  17. hawkguy

    hawkguy Well-Known Member

    some people (like myself) have to learn the hard way. :p

    when i first started into the shooting hobby, i thought stockpiling ammo was weird and paranoid. why do that when you just go to the store and buy what you need?

    a year+ of not shooting my guns was the wake up call i needed. sometimes stubborn people like myself have to get slapped with reality....

    fast forward to now...and its really nice to feel no worry during this panic. pretty much same sh!t, diff. year!...i'll go to the range as i please.....its a good feeling.

    OLD Ron, PaBushMan, SSGN_Doc and 3 others like this.
  18. RaySendero

    RaySendero Active Member

    But the 270W doesn't even fit the "not the most popular" category!

    As matter of fact it is the most popular cartridge among the members of our deer lease by far! Over half of us use a scoped bolt action 270W.
    And it wasn't just factory loads available, Cases, Die Sets and Bullets for the 270W were readily available during the previous shortage.

    I contrast that with a 30-06 rifle, another popular cartridge, that I brought home and my wife claimed during the last shortage. I couldn't find factory ammo or bullets, cases or dies to start reloading. Finally got a swap worked out with another site member for some bullets, cases and dies. Luckily had powders and primers as these were scarce, too.
    hawkguy likes this.
  19. Double20

    Double20 Active Member

    Along the same lines, I recently stopped by my local Academy to get primers to reload .44 mag. Luckily they still had large pistol primers but a lot of other stuff was gone. No powder at all. No shotgun primers. Almost no ammunition left on the shelf. What was there would be considered uncommon calibers. Lucky for me besides the primers still being in stock (I have powder at the house) they had some boxes of 6.8 SPC on the shelf. I have 3 AR rifles. One is 5.56/.223, one is 7.62/.308, and one is 6.8 SPC. If I was in the situation where I had no ammo for the three of them, 6.8 SPC would have been the only one I could have got ammo for which kind of makes the point about common calibers being the first to go when panic buying sets in and having an uncommon caliber to fall back on a good idea. Or just buy cheap and stack deep as has been mentioned so that you don't have to worry about it.
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  20. RaySendero

    RaySendero Active Member

    hawkguy, Repeat 3 times:

    I need a bolt action 270W,
    I Need a bolt action 270W,
    I NEED a bolt action 270W
    hawkguy likes this.