How Much Ammo Is Enough For SHTF?

How Much Ammo Is Enough For SHTF?

Zach Dunn

“Buy It Cheap, and stack it deep” is a running theme amongst many shooters I have noticed over the past decade. With the gun ban scares that keep surfacing and the concern over the direction the world is heading, many folks have started to keep a large amount of ammunition on hand.  The reasons for stockpiling are many. Some never want to run out of ammunition if the lights go out. Some stockpile in case, Heaven forbid, an asteroid plunges from the sky and destroys every ammunition plant on the face of the earth. Some folks stockpile because ammo prices are always increasing. Some buy cheap now to sell high later. One person I have had the “experience” of meeting, is stockpiling for the Illuminati takeover.


But the top reason, the one that by and large trumps every other reason, is simply an uncertain future in an increasingly dangerous world. Most of can’t say with certainty what will or what will not happen.  The economy is on the rocks, unemployment high, rumblings from Russia and China; saber rattling from Iran, terror, Antifa, and the list goes on.  One has to admit this is not the relatively peaceful 1980s or the 90s anymore.


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So with all of these dangers possibly on the horizon, a question I am hearing more and more often is, “how much ammunition should I stockpile?”


A lot of armchair preppers on many gun forums will write how they have accumulated 100,000 rounds, or more, of 5.56, 7.62×39, .308 or in some cases 5.45x39mm.  While 100,000 rounds is truly an impressive amount of ammunition, I have to ask, are you expecting to take over a small country?  The possibility that you will expend 100,000 rounds of ammunition in even a worst-case scenario, is a slim one indeed.


Of course, it is impossible to guess how much ammunition to stockpile for if things go south.  However, I would venture to guess that most folks out there can neither afford now to purchase 100,000 rounds, or would ever need to.  But I do believe there are at the very least, some milestones one should aim for.




Every red-blooded American should own at least one or two .22 long rifle chambered long arms.  Many of us have more than two.  A .22, while not extremely useful for defending the family homestead, can feed you.  Rabbit, squirrel, groundhog, and other small game are very edible and are abundant across North America.  In fact, it is most very probable you would be able to harvest quite a bit of small game during hard times.  To do that, there is nothing better than a .22.


For every .22 I own, I like to have at least 5,000 rounds of ammunition.  In fact, I would aim for 10,000 rounds.  The reason being, you can also train with a .22.   All this said some are better than none and if you are on a budget (which we all are at some point in life!), I would aim for at least 1000 rounds per rifle set aside for hard times.


The Shotgun


A .12 gauge or a .20 gauge shotgun is about the most versatile firearm you can have in your safe or by your bed.  A shotgun can be used to protect your home, dispatch waterfowl, upland, and small game, and can be used to kill large game at closer ranges when employing slugs or buckshot.  Many shotguns need only to have their barrel switched, and can go from a home defense gun to the freezer filler right away.


I like to keep at least 400 rounds of cheap number 7 or number 8 game loads, 1-200 rounds of 00 Buck, and 1-200 slugs on hand. I also hunt turkey and employ my 870 for waterfowl on occasion so having a few boxes of turkey load and steel waterfowl loads on hand is important as well.  The benefit with shotgun ammunition is it always seems to be in stock, can be cheap, and is reloadable.


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The Big Game Rifle

 Like any other firearm, your big rifle has to eat as well.  Some ammunition is cheaper and easier to stockpile than others.  It is cheaper to purchase ammunition for my .30-30 than it is to buy the “right” ammunition for my 8mm.  If you shoot an exotic caliber, buying 20 rounds of ammunition can be as expensive as buying 50-100 rounds of .30-06 or .270.


Personally, I keep 250-300 rounds on hand for my .30-30, the same for my .243, and at least 200 rounds on hand for .30-06s, .270s or the .300 Win Mag.  I don’t own rare calibers; the most exotic rifle I have is a sporterized 8mm Mauser, of which I like to have 200 rounds at least on hand.  I don’t plan on ever fighting a battle with a hunting rifle, nor would I want to.  But to dispatch large game with precision and speed I prefer a larger caliber than .223.


This is where reloading can be a huge benefit.  You can typically get 2-3 uses out of good brass, and having the knowledge, supplies, and equipment to reload can double or triple your ammunition stockpile.  A word of caution, there is a large expense to get into reloading, but it does start to save cash after a year or two.


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The Semi-Auto Rifle


If you call these firearms “assault rifles”, I hope somebody smacks you as I am unable to reach through the monitor to do so.  One pull of the trigger equals the expenditure of one round.  Most AR-15, AK-47/AKM/AK-74, M1A, FN FAL and other such firearms owned by red-blooded Americans are semi-automatic.  You need a sea of paperwork and a tax stamp to own a fully automatic firearm, including true assault rifles which have the option of both semi-auto and fully automatic fire.


Now that we cleared that up with proper firearms knowledge and some liberal’s tears we can move on.


If you own an AR-15, an AK-47 or AK-74, SKS, FAL, M1A, or a variety of other magazine fed semi-automatic rifles, you’ll notice that they can eat ammunition like a fat kid eats pizza. Especially if you think it’s cool to do full mag dumps and bump fire your rifle.  If you like to do either of those things pat yourself on the back, as you are supporting the gun industry with the purchase of new barrels, parts and ammunition in much greater frequency than the rest of us.


But I digress.


For my AKs and ARs, I keep at least 1500-2000 rounds per rifle on hand for an emergency, not counting ammunition I keep for target practice.  I’m not one to rapid fire, although I’m sure I would if I needed to in a self-defense situation.  For good brass cased 5.56 ammunition, plan on coughing up $260-$300 per 1000 5.56x45mm rounds. For an AK-47 or SKS about $230 for 1000 7.62x39mm, and $230-250 per 1000 rounds of 5.45x39mm for your AK-74.  If you shoot .308/7.62x51mm in an M1A, AR-10, FAL, etc., plan on spending around $6-700 on a 1000 rounds.  If you cherish your M1 Garand, you will be at around the same price for military grade .30-06 (don’t shoot hunting ammunition through your M1, unless you like blowing guns up or have changed out your gas system).


If you are trying to get into the game quickly and get a semi-auto for a rainy day, I would choose an AR-15, or an AK.  The cheaper rifle to get into is right now the AR-15, followed by AKM (WASR, Palmetto State AK), with the AK-74 coming in 3rd.  A word to the wise the AK-74 is getting scarce and is nowhere near as common as it was 6-7 years ago.  Choosing between these rifles is a subject for another time, and has been bitterly contested since the 1980s.  Let’s move on before the fanboys of both sides start crying, cursing and tossing their iPhones and laptops across the room.


The Handgun


I carry a Glock 19 9mm pistol for concealed carry; in fact, every handgun I own currently is chambered in 9mm.  This makes purchasing ammo a cinch.  Admittedly I am not a handgun fanatic.  I like rifles, and being able to actually hit what I shoot at.


For emergencies, I recommend having handguns in only 2-3 different Chamberings at most. This does not count a .22lr target pistol.  I like to have 500-1000 rounds of FMJ target ammunition and 500 JHPs on hand at a time for my handguns.  Again, I’m not counting on a handgun as my primary firearm in an emergency and truthfully neither should you!  A handgun is a backup weapon or something you carry when you can’t carry a rifle (everyday defensive carry).  Sure, keep a good stock on hand of handgun ammunition, but put most of your cash into long arms and ammunition for said long arms.


  1. Avatar

    My gosh brother the Illuminati? Did he issue a tin foil hat lol. This was informative. I’m pleased to say I exceed the suggestion for 22lr. Working on my big guns .270 and 30-06. 130 grain .270. 180 for the 06. I love the idea of sticking to one or two calibers in anything to be used as a survival/defense weapon. I’ve several odd ball 22s etc. God forbid the worst I’ve got a good Remington speedmaster, a basic Winchester semi, and a marlin 60. We are strictly 9mm on semi auto handgun. No reason other than a really good deal with a large amount of ammo. Also a good tiger .357 mag. Can be used as a deer Slater in a pinch. Long barrel. River mini 14 for my semi rifle in 5.56. Little work to do there on the ammo. I have started to pick up ammo and bottled water every Walmart run I make. It spreads the expense and adds up quickly.
    Need to get with you about handloading. I’ve got brass and a good press. Not sure about setting it up. Got a good 20 gauge home defense mod and a couple of 3 inch if needed 12s. Working on ammo for them
    As well.
    Love this article.

  2. Zach Dunn

    Right up there with the guy who based where he lived on the fallout map…

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About The Author

Zach Dunn

Zach Dunn is one of the owners of 1776TV and serves as Senior Editor. He is a passionate Constitutionalist. He enjoys the Outdoors, Firearms, and History. He is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Zach is married to Amy and they have a son and three daughters. He currently resides in the Mountains of North Carolina.

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