How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Ammunition Storage and Selection For TEOTWAWKI

While every gun nut (said quite affectionately, since I consider myself a bit of one…) has a tendency to procure all sorts of obscure calibers, sometimes that’s not really the best plan.

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.

Shotgun Shells

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.

Wrapping Up

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.

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7 Responses to Ammunition Storage and Selection For TEOTWAWKI

  1. Nice post. I get to have my first try at something besides BB guns/pellet rifles this coming week. I have to learn how to shoot (and disassemble and clean) an AR-15. We’ll see how that goes.

    • .

      I don’t want to come off like some mall-ninja wanna-be who couldn’t pass the Airborne physical spoutin’ off blah-blah-blah about guns but when money is tight, do not overlook the rugged simplicity and economy of an SKS carbine.


  2. I have always had a resonable stock of ammo for all my guns, but since the election in 2008, I have feverously been stocking up on ammo. You can never have enough ammo but you can have to little.

  3. Today I recieved another shipment of ammo. I watched the UPS driver strain and his face go red as a beet as he picked up the heavy box . I had him put the box in the garage. He looked at me and said ” More ammo?”. I laughed and said yes. He knew before he ask because this was not the first heavy load of ammo he has delivered to me. He said that he is delivering 1000’s of rounds of ammo monthly thru out the valley. He said the American people seem to know that its time to stock up.

  4. Nice post, but as a long time shooter and hobbyist gun smith, may I toss a few in?

    .223 is nice, but the AR-15 can be REAL cranky. The BEST one for this caliber is Ruger’s Mini-14. There are lots of factory and after market high capacity magazines out there, and besides, the Mini-14 is pretty rugged. Keep it cleaned and oiled, and it will give you many years of good service.

    I agree with the semi-auto handguns, although BOTH .45 ACP and GAP can be darned hard to find, unless you want to shoot Russian-manufactured ammo (and then have to TOTALLY disassemble your piece to clean, stuff shoots well but is awfully DIRTY).

    As to revolvers (I refuse to use the PC “wheel gun”), NOTHING beats a .44 Magnum. In some states you can even hunt with one (provided the barrel length is 4″ or over, although I prefer 6″ or over). A .44 Magnum is MANDATORY if you live, like I do, in BEAR country. Any caliber over is hard to recover from the recoil, and could even be harmful to you. Likewise, don’t use .44 Magnum ammo unless you HAVE TO because of recoil issues. My preference is .44 Special. Less recoil problems even if you don’t have much in upper body strength. The only drawback is that .44 Special is expensive as all get out, so you may want to try reloading, or befriending one who does. BOTH rounds will cause massive trauma to a target (the film “Dirty Harry” was NO exaggeration!).

    Like others I have my “fun guns,” but for survival you HAVE to stockpile. And, because the current administration has admitted they want to do an “end around” the Constitution, you MAY want to consider stocking up on high capacity magazines NOW.