We won’t be the first ones to point out that if you don’t have enough ammo, your guns aren’t any better than a club or shovel. They might even be less useful without ammo!
Whatever weapons you have, the general minimum rule is, store at least 1,000 rounds per caliber and have another 1,000 rounds available for practicing. Many people store more, or have goals of building up their ammo stash as high as possible.
That said, ammo is expensive and the large caliber ammunition for big weapons takes up a lot of space. Weapons experts advise that you should have at least three to five magazines for each weapon you have with a magazine. You won’t have time in a genuine emergency to fool around with loose bullets. Or, picture it this way. Did you ever watch the bumbling deputy Barney Fife on the old Andy Griffith Show? Sheriff Andy gave Barney an unloaded revolver and one bullet “just in case,” because there was no way skinny, hysterical Barney was ever going to carry a loaded gun around without shooting himself in the foot. For our purposes of defense, Barney’s single bullet isn’t going to do the job.
Small Arms vs. Large Arms?
Depending on your family situation and needs, you will want to prioritize ammunition for the weapons you have. Ammo for small arms is less expensive, easier to store, and easier to assemble into a respectable ammo stash.
Stockpiles and Availability
In 1994, the U.S. had a stockpile of unused small arms ammo left over from the end of the Cold War estimated to worth about $80 billion. $31 billion of that amount was official “surplus” and able to be sold to the public. Ammo production continues. Billions of new cartridges are manufactured each year according to the Weapons Law Encyclopedia.
How Long Can You Store Ammo?
With a good safe that can handle at least a thousand rounds and some of your weapons and magazines, you can add a few packets of dessicant and the bullets will be good for at least a couple of generations: 50 years, and maybe more.
The main cause of deterioration in your ammo is the gunpowder, and heat is its enemy. That is why you want to store your ammo in a safe in a cool, dry place. The lifespan of your ammo will go down dramatically once you take it out and start carrying it and using it. At that point, it’s good for six months to a year carried around with you. Hot temperatures, humidity and the elements can affect it.
Rotation Systems and Planning
Keep in mind that you will also want to practice and use some of your ammo, so set up a good system to rotate older ammo out, and replace the stash with newer rounds you purchase. You also want to keep your eye out for sales. Experienced ammo stashers look for the very best prices and have an ideal price range in mind.
A lot of cheap ammo gets dumped on the market from time to time, and prices also go up any time any controversial event occurs, or new gun legislation is in the news.
Finally, be aware of how much this stuff weighs, even a box of .22 caliber rounds. 100 .22 rounds weighs about 2 pounds. But a thousand rounds weighs 20 pounds. If you’re getting into bigger calibers like .45s, 100 of them weigh well over 5 pounds. Your 1,000 round stash of .45 caliber cartridges will weigh between 60 and 70 pounds.