Now I don’t have anything against you owning a Winchester Model 70 in .416 Taylor or an elephant gun in .600 Nitro Express, these calibers aren’t exactly what you think about when selecting a survival cartridge.
It’s fine and dandy to have lots of guns in all sorts of different calibers for fun and games, but when it comes to choosing a caliber to depend on in any sort of survival or SHTF situation, you have to pick one and standardize. Keep enough of your fun calibers for plinking and entertainment, but here are some guidelines for longer term planning.
Rudy’s Note: Some of the total amounts I’m going to throw out here are pretty large. You do NOT have to do this all at once. Buy a brick of .22LR a month, or a couple boxes of 9mm. As long as you buy more than you shoot, you’ll end up with a pretty good stockpile before you know it!
Now there are about ten or so rimfire calibers in vaguely common usage, and over 50 rare and obscure rimfire calibers, but for survival and preparedness there is absolutely no reason to store anything other than .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR)
A .22 LR rifle, such as the Ruger 10/22 or a nice Marlin bolt action .22, is a requirement for every survival armory. This is such a versatile and useful round for a survival situation that you should stock quite a bit of ammo. I’d call 5,000 rounds a minimum, and wouldn’t blink about having 25,000 – 30,000 rounds stored.
Sure, that sounds like alot, but it’s dirt cheap and you can go through a couple hundred rounds a day just messing around. In addition to being a great small game cartridge, the .22 LR is a fantastic training round and it’s a hell of alot cheaper than any major centerfire round.
Centerfire Handgun Round
This is pretty straight forward. Choose a common caliber that is used by the military or the police, since you’re pretty assured of being able to find a round that is in wide spread usage. Think 9x19mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP for semi automatic handguns. For wheelguns, stick with .38 Special or .357 Magnum.
Sure, there’s other options. Those are not good survival rounds. Period. Own them for fun, and enjoy them as often as you like. But don’t use them in your SHTF plans.
As far as how many rounds to store, I’d store about 500-1,000 hollow point defensive rounds per survival caliber and another couple thousand rounds of ball. If you shoot quite a bit, feel free to crank that amount up appropriately. If it were me, I’d look for about 10,000 rounds total in the long run.
Rudy’s Note: Ball ammunition has a bullet that has a shell of metal, usually a copper-nickel alloy, surrounding the lead bullet. Another commonly used word for ball ammo is ‘Full Metal Jacket’
Centerfire Rifle Round
For a survival situation you have two types of rifle rounds to consider. First, you need a heavier centerfire round that is primarily for longer range shooting and hunting. It’s your classic hunting rifle, not a tactical weapon.
For this you’ll want to choose either a .308 (7.62mm NATO), a .30-06, .300 Winchester Magnum, or maybe even a 7mm. My personal preference is .308, but you should feel free to choose your own.
For this rifle you want to plan on storing at least 750 rounds, about 200 or 300 of which should be hunting rounds with the rest as ball ammunition. My preference here would be to have at least 2,000 rounds total.
Tactical Centerfire Rifle
For a tactical rifle, there is really no viable or realistic alternative to an AR-15 in .223 (5.56mm NATO). You don’t need to kit it out like a Mall Ninja, but having one is a good idea. I know that for some people an AR-15 is a Big Black Rifle, and to be honest, I felt that way for a while too. But there’s a reason why they’re so common, and it’s hard to beat their versatility. They also make a decent home defense long gun.
As far as round count goes, start with 1,000 rounds of ball, and target anywhere between 3,000 – 5,000 rounds of ball. You might consider getting some frangible ammunition as well if you plan on using your tactical rifle as a home defense gun.
This is a bit more complicated. For a shotgun you should choose 12 gauge unless you have a hard time handling it, in which case you should feel free to go with a 20 gauge. You might consider both if you have people of slighter build in your family.
The complication comes into play when you decide what types of shells to store. You need to store a fair amount of 00 buckshot, several different kinds of birdshot, as well as slugs. Decide what kind of birdshot you want based on what small game is available in your area.
For overall round count, start with a couple hundred rounds of buckshot, about a hundred slugs, and four or five hundred birdshot shells. Longer term, you want to shoot for a total of 1,500 – 2,000 shells.
Like I said before, some of these target numbers are pretty large. However, you can get there slowly but surely. You’re planning on a situation where replacement ammunition is not available for an extended period of time and not some crazy firefight from the movies.
I hope this gives you some food for thought. Feel free to ask me any clarifying questions you might have.