> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Minimum Ammo Levels - Course Round Counts



Minimum Ammo Levels - Course Round Counts

How much ammo do I need for the end of the world is a common question and topic of discussion.

The answer is usually some variation of "a lot."

Since we're nearing the tail end of the biggest ammunition shortage in recent memory, we now have a small bit of experience in dealing with poor resupply of ammunition.

I'll wager that none of us have depleted our apocalypse reserves--no, what suffered has been our ability to get out there and train. Blowing through a hundred rounds at the range has become cost prohibitive, let alone a full fledged 3 day weapons course with a reputable instructor, where round counts easily top 1000 rounds.

Personally, I am beginning to use a rough average round count from several schools as the baseline, then doubling it. This gives enough ammunition to run through a training course and still have lots of ammunition left in reserve. Also, should the zombies arise and the communists invade, it's a lot of ammo to begin with.

Here are some rough numbers this approach gives you - tending towards the higher counts:
  • Semi-Auto Rifle: 3000 rounds
  • Sidearm: 2400 rounds
  • Shotgun: 1200 bird, 400 buck, 200 slug
  • Precision Rifle: 1200 rounds match ammo
.22lr notably not included.

Obviously, at today's prices, this is a sizable investment.

The ammunition horde is one area that I personally need to improve on, and as ammo prices fall back to earth, I will be looking to make some headway here.


  1. AnonymousJuly 16, 2013

    A very effective AND cost effective tactical rifle round is the 5.45x39. You can still purchase it cheaply, its ballistically very similar to the 5.56 round. Both ARs and AKs are chambered for it and it comes sealed in1,080 round spam cans, perfect for squirreling away for a rainy day.

    1. 5.45x39 is pretty good stuff. Downsides are that most of it is corrosive and nearly all is foreign produced/imported. I'd do an AK if I was going down that route.

    2. AnonymousJuly 20, 2013

      Corrosive ammo is highly over-hyped. I have several firearms that use the stuff (2-AR 5.45, 1-AK 5.45, 1-VEPR 7.62x54r) and have never had an issue with rust or corrosion. A somewhat sensible cleaning regimen and things are golden. I think the mythology surrounding the stuff is one reason that the prices remain so low. The main reason for the corrosive primers is the one thing us preppers should be mindful of...long term storage and still great reliability.

  2. I see multiple questions here.

    Personally the biggest actionable (not dream shopping 30k in gun stuff) lesson I learned from firearmagedon was that I need to differentiate between operational and training ammunition. My operational stash was OK but there was no stipulation for training. If I needed to zero a scope it came out of operational ammo, ditto for an afternoon at the range, etc. Not an ideal situation.

    As to operational numbers. My goal (not 100% there yet) is as follows:
    Fighting rifle-3k
    Fighting pistol-1k
    Shotgun-Used to say 1k but 750 mixed might be fine.
    .22lr Think I figured 2k per gun.
    Hunting/ precision rifle-500 rounds. Mostly this is set low due to cost. A buck a bullet or more gets silly fast.
    *Note this is PER GUN*

    My training stash (separate from and in addition to the op stuff) goal is as follows:
    12 gauge-500 rounds mostly target shot with say 100 each buck and slugs.
    .22- 2k.
    .38 spec-250.
    Hunting/ precision rifles-100 rounds per caliber.
    The last two are low because I do not shoot them very much.
    (This is total rounds, not per gun.)

    Still firming these up but my goal is to be able to do several months of normal practice and maybe a short course for the stuff I would be more likely to do one on without breaking the bank.

    As prices normalize I will keep working towards these goals.

    So there is my thinking. Curious as to your thoughts on it.

    1. I've had similar thinking, Ryan.

      I had training ammunition set aside - enough for casual practice and the occasional range trip, but not enough to accommodate a formal training course, which is something I'd like to have around.

      Along the lines of the post above, one half would be allocated as "expendable", the other half would be held back for operational purposes.

      So - for the 3,000 carbine rounds, 1500 would be available for practice, 1500 held back for crap hits the fan.

      If the crap hits the fan, practice ammo would certainly be available for defensive use, too.

    2. That split makes sense. I had ammo but it was all just lumped together without a real mental allocation that X is for practice and I was pretty uncomfortable dipping into it.

      What I have done now is to separate things. I know whatever is in the range stash is good to shoot up. I do not keep a strict count of it. This way the stuff set aside in the other can's does not get co mingled with the range ammo and I know those counts are accurate. Arguably not necessary but it is working so far.

  3. AnonymousJuly 16, 2013

    Remember the Golden Rule....You only need enough ammo for the weopen you have, to take down one person carrying the weopen of your enemy. Then ammo comes easy.
    Zombies are easy, its the ones that think and react that ya worry about.

  4. http://www.stevespages.com/page7c.htm

    This conversation made me think about something that I thought I would share. It is not directly related, but sort of similar. The link is to a website that has a ton of free PDF military manuals, on all sorts of different things. This information might not be new to y'all but, since I have only been into prepping (and thus some tactical training) for a couple of years, it was a great resource.

    Anyway, I have a hard time stockpiling ammo because I don't even have all the guns I need (more like want but extremely useful). For example, I have a handgun, and a shotgun, and a bolt action deer gun, and a .22 LR, but no semi auto or good sniper rifle (the bolt gun is a .30-06). Also, the handgun I have is a 1911, and I only have one mag (this is because the gun itself is a WW2 standard army issue, so mag are hard to find. Gun shoots sweet though and never had a problem) so I want a .40 Glock with some extended mags and what not. I also thought of getting an M1A as both a sniper, and semi auto gun. Good enough for the seals, it aught to be good enough for me.

    1. jeepboy1991July 17, 2013

      The 30-06 would make a good sniper rifle (1903 springfields were used as sniper rifles by the USMC as late as vietnam) and the ww2 issue 1911 will use any generic 1911 magazine. They are still out there at the gun shows here in Texas. So you are pretty well equipped as you stand.

    2. I did know about the .30-06 being used as a sniper rifle, but for some reason, this rifle shoots really wide groups. It is a great deer fund if you can get within 100 yards. Maybe it just needs a little work, or different ammo. Anyway, I didn't know that the magazines were all the same. I am going to have to find me some. Thanks!

    3. jeepboy1991July 17, 2013

      Glad to be of help. BTW, you might try checking the triggerguard screws on that rifle, if they are loose, the groups will spread out. Also, try checking the screws on the scope mounts. I had a friend who had a 30-30 that was all over the place. It had a loose screw on the scope mount base (about 1/4 turn). Took us forever to find the problem.

    4. I actually have done that a couple of times. I have been doing a sniper course on youtube and that was one of the things it mention to check if you rifle was "all over the place". I think I need to just strap it down to a bench and try some different ammos, or try to tune it. I haven't done this yet because ammo is like $1 a shot, so, it adds up fast.

    5. jeepboy1991July 17, 2013

      Take up reloading! it pays back it's investment real fast. :-)

    6. jeepboy1991July 17, 2013

      Just remembered this.I read in a book the 1903-a3 springfield had a manufacturing change on one screw hole. The 1903 and 1903-a1 had a "blind" hole in the reciever for one of the trigger guard screws. that needed a bottoming tap to thread during manufacture. The "simplified" 1903-a3 had the hole drilled all the way through and had a 1/10 inch longer screw. arsenal level repair and refit did not segregate the screws and could get the longer screw on the 03 and 03-a1. the screw could bottom out before clamping the action tightly to the stock, causing a loose action and poor accuracy. I am assuming your rifle is a sporting rifle but you might want to check that the action screws are not bottoming out. Just a thought

    7. Thoughts on the rifle which should be a tack driver but seems to be grouping like a 12 gauge:
      -Get a manual (can find em online), read it and give the rifle a quick once over. Check to make sure the scope is securely mounted also at this time.

      If that does not fix the problem I would look in order at you, ammo then revisit the gun in more detail.

      -How are you shooting with other rifles (recently not 5, 10, 20 years ago)? If you were hitting a 12" steel at 600m with another rifle last weekend then disregard this but otherwise have you considered the issue might be the guy behind the gun? Another angle to look at this from is whether a more experienced shooter is having the same issues. If that does not fix the problem

      -I would look at ammo. What are you shooting now? I know ammo is expensive but you should be able to swing a box each of 2 types of common quality (federal, rem, win, hornady, etc) ammunition to try it with. If this does not fix the problem.

      -Take the gun to a qualified gunsmith, ideally one who specializes in older surplus rifles. At this point there is probably an issue with the gun, hopefully a cheap one. If that doesn't fix it.

      -Get a new rifle.

    8. I think he said he had 30.06. Jeepboy is the one who brought up the 1903, but if it is a surplus rifle the barrel may be worn out.

    9. jeepboy1991July 18, 2013

      Yes, I brought up the 1903, Chewylouie never said what he had.
      I just knew of some things that caused problems with the 03 from a book I had and they could also affect any generic rifle.

    10. jeepboy1991July 18, 2013

      Hmm, It appears I hijacked the thread into a discussion of why a bolt action might be inaccurate. No harm intended.
      One more thing, a damaged or dinged muzzle crown or worn rifling at the muzzle. I had a smle .303 british that was keholing at 50 yards.
      I cut 2 inches off the barrel and recrowned it with a rotary file and it then grouped 2 inches at 100 yards.
      A crude test for worn rifling is to insert a loaded round into the muzzle. If the case mouth contacts the muzzle you have worn rifling. It should stop about 1-2 mm from the muzzle.

      If Chewylouie's rifle is a commercial sporter, they are usually very accurate out of the box but an occasional lemon slips through.

    11. My rifle is a remington 770, .30-06 springfield. It is not but about 3 years old and really hasn't had that much shooting done to it, because the ammo is so expensive. I shoot Remington Core lokt 165 grains. The crown is not really worn out or nicked. I have had my dad shoot it and he had the same problem with the gun. I guess it could also be the scope, which is a cheapo scope. I really think I need to strap it down and see if I am the problem. It seems like every other shot is off by about 6 or so inches, so I guess it really could be flinch. I am not a very experienced rifleman. I am more used to shotguns and squirrel hunting and what not.

    12. jeepboy1991July 18, 2013

      that is a nice rifle

    13. jeepboy1991July 18, 2013

      One more thing Chewylouie, If that WW2 1911 is bone stock GI, It will feed ball ammo no problem but it MIGHT I repeat MIGHT have problems with hollow points.(some do some dont, mine did). If it does, it needs the feed ramp polished or a drop in aftermarket barrel. That is a common condition for pure GI guns. The 1911 has a reputation for relibility second to none.

    14. This one shoots them fine. It hasn't jammed ever in the time I have had it.

    15. jeepboy1991July 18, 2013

      Cool. Then you have one of the finest handguns ever designed. Not many handguns can say that they were standard military equipment for over a century. The 1911-A1 became Limited Standard for the U.S. Military when it adopted the M9 beretta but the special forces preferred it and kept using it.
      Get yourself a handful of spare mags and you are set. Quality of mags does vary, so take a good look before you buy. As of last year, a bunch of new in the military wrapper mags were out there along side of the glock mags from Korea. They are pretty good and a reasonable price.

    16. Very cool 1911. The older WWII models can be worth quite a bit of money to collectors. And yes, it should be compatible with any 1911 magazine. Spend some money on reputable mags - I'm not a 1911, but Chip McCormick and Wilson Combat mags are well regarded.

      On the rifle, I would check the scope first. A cheap scope, lousy mounts, under the recoil of .30-06 can move all over the place. I've had several cheap scopes do this to me during the initial sight in attempt. You learn fairly quickly to not skimp on scopes and mounts.

      Then, I would check the shooter. A flinch could be the cause.

      If neither are the case, I'd probably sell the rifle and get a new one versus try to chase down the accuracy gremlins or sink money into gunsmithing a $350 rifle.

    17. Yes, they are. This one, if it were in good condition is worth over $3,000. This one is worth only about $2250-$2500 because the finish is gone. The guy that had it before me threw it in a tool box and left it there for a "backup gun". It got all rusty and so he cleaned it up a little and sold it for $420, to me. This guy obviously did not know what he had.
      I am planning to get a new rifle soon anyway. I am working on seeing up a semi-automatic sniper system. Planning on getting an M1a, which interestingly enough, served along side the 1911 (I guess I just got a thing for old school). This gun, similarly to the SF not wanting to let go of the 1911, the navy seal did not want to get rid of the M1a as the semi auto sniper system.

    18. jeepboy1991July 20, 2013

      Just out of curiosity, what is the manufacturer of that WW2 1911?

    19. Colt. This one is a 1941. It has the original barrel and everything. And is isn't even worn out that much like you would expect from an older gun.

  5. irishbrian90July 16, 2013

    Ha ironically I was thinking about this just the other day. It was really bothering me that I didn't know exactly how much ammunition I had in each caliber, and since I had to redo my storage I decided it was time to take inventory. I actually ended up making it into an Excel spreadsheet so that it could easily be updated after a trip to the range. I broke it down by caliber, and by type of ammunition in the caliber, e.g. target and HP in 9mm. I went a little too OCD though when I started hand counting Mosin rounds in my ammo cans haha.

    All in all, it was a solid few hours work, and with a brief bit of tech wizardry I now have a system to track my ammo stockpiles in a very easy and efficient way. I fully recommend this strategy for those of you who may not really keep track of just how many rounds you have, and don't really pay attention to just how much you shoot. I don't recommend the hand counting of rounds though. It takes a bit too long haha

  6. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013

    Are those amounts PER firearm or collectively? I'm guessing per gun, as 4 ARs or AKs and 3000 for all of them would be too little.

    I think halfing the bird shot to 600 and increasing it to buckshot makes more sense - killing birds and small game with a shotgun seems very wasteful to me. Pellet rifles are GREAT for this and vermin control, which will become very important around your property. Much less noisy too.

    Great topic - thanks for bringing it up.

    1. Yes, per firearm.

      The shotgun excels at killing birds and small game. Pellet guns being only so-so for anything of a reasonable meal sized.

      Birdshot can be turned into combat/large game loads if needs be - plenty of YouTube videos around melting down and recasting lead, wax slugs and so on.

      And, most training schools go heavy on the birdshot in courses - and most shotgunners practice with bird more heavily than buck or slugs.

  7. I only started shooting earlier this year so thus far I only own a 9mm handgun and .22LR takedown rifle. That being said, I just ordered another 1000 rounds of 9mm and ~750 rounds of .22 last night. If I lived in the US I'd also have an AR and way more ammo for everything.

    Can anyone recommend the best AR type rifle to get here in Canada? Restricted class is fine, but I'd like to keep it in the $1200-$2000 CDN range.

    1. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013

      not sure what Canadian firearm restrictions are since I live in the u.s. the ruger mini-14 ranch might be a good place to start since it is a varmint rifle here in the states. I found it to be a fun platform to shoot and relatively inexpensive. It's a semi auto with a 20 round detachable box magazine like the AR and is available as a standard ranch rifle or upgraded to look like an "assault" rifle. If Canadian laws allows, I have replaced my mini-14 with a Rock River Arms Elite Operator before the "big rush" of 2013 for just under $1000. I love the way this rifle shoots, nice and flat shooting with easy follow ups with a tight grouping. It caught my eye because it came stock with a free floating half picatinny rail fore end, collapsible stock and fold down front sights, two extra mags and a knock off pelican case for just under a grand it was a deal I just couldn't pass up.
      One last piece of advice what ever you buy, becarful about caliber. You can shoot .223 in a rifle calibered for 5.56 but you can't shoot 5.56 from a rifle calibered for.223

    2. No clue about Canuck firearms laws, but I imagine you will be restricted on magazine capacity. When restricted to 5 or 10 rounds, a rifle like the AR looses some of its attractiveness. Personally, if I'm going to be restricted to 5 or 10 rounds, I'd step up to something with more oomph.

      I know for sure you can get the Ruger Scout Rifle up there - I'd take a good look at that.

      Also, if I remember right, Canadian laws are less restrictive on shotguns. If your area is more heavily forested, a good scattergun would be a good option.

    3. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

      Our laws here in Canada restrict mag capacity in semi-autos to 5 rounds (the exception being rim fire)/// That said my main go to rifle is a Marlin 1895 GBL in .45-70 - for this this I have 500 rnds factory loaded & reloading components for x5 /// My .12g is a Norinco coach gun - for this I have 700 rnds 00, 200 slug, 300 bird /// My .22 is a Browning BL-22 - for this I have 5000 rnds /// Once summer is over I'll be back to $250 per month contribution to ammo /// I keep track of in-out supplies on an excel spread sheet.

  8. Milo MindbenderJuly 17, 2013

    I have had to pull back on the training, me and my boys are using up about 1K of pellets per month, and about 2 hundred shotgun shells. Everything else has been put on hold, ammo cost too much, and pellet guns and shotguns will help keep muscle memory freshish, without breaking the bank.

  9. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013

    can anybody tell me if storing semi-auto and handgun ammo loose in cans is safe. I have asked some of my buddies and researched a little on line but can't seem to get a straight answer. Half say not to bust them out of the boxes they came in because it will loosen the projectile from the shell caseing. That creates a problem of space, I have 1000 rounds each of 9mm, .40, 12ga-bird,12ga 00buck, 5.56,and 7.62 but the cans are completely full or close with all the rounds still in the box. Others say that it won't cause any issues to open the boxes and just dump them in the can, which would double or even triple the amount of ammo I could store in one can. Can anyone give me the answer of the best way for long term storage of ammo?

    1. jeepboy1991July 17, 2013

      I can't see having ammo loose in cans being unsafe under most conditions. I CAN see a potential danger though. If a can got dropped hard enough a rim or a bullet nose could detonate a primer. I had a box of 38special packed loose fall off a table onto the floor. The rim of one case hit a primer and there was a loud pop. The case split and the bullet traveled about an inch or so, bits of brass flew around the room. You could clearly see the rim mark on the primer.
      Having the bullets loosen up in the case doesn't seem likely with factory loads. Handloads might do so if they weren't crimped well.
      The boxes will add a layer of protection as well as make it easier to grab a small amount of ammo when you need it. I myself would leave them in the boxes or perhaps transfer them to stripper clips and bandoleers. I did that with most of my 5.56 and with some of my .308 on garand clips to make it "ready to use".
      The handgun rounds and the shotgun rounds I would leave in the boxes.
      It's just me but cans loaded with boxed ammo are already too heavy to just toss around and doubling the weight.....but that is just me (I'm in perfect shape... round is a shape!)

    2. Yes, storing ammo loose in cans is perfectly safe.

      If you were to routinely throw your ammo cans off the roof of your home, there might be a small risk of a primer being accidentally set off and bullets working their way loose.

  10. AnonymousJuly 18, 2013

    How deep is my stock?

    I'm not anywhere near where I should be but I have set aside about 1,500 rounds Ball of each caliber of handgun I own and the same count of ball ammo for my AR. In addition to that I am maintaining a supply for personal training and class work as an instructor.

    Defensive load count is critically low so I rarely practice with carry ammo. I don't like that at all but I can't seem to replace what I might shoot.

    In addition to that I have set aside components for reloading about 500 rounds total for my hunting rifles (which can double as sniper rigs). Plus some for handguns as well. My shotgun supply is a pitiful load of about 400 rounds of field loads per gauge, and about 100 buckshot/slugs each for my .20 ga & 12 ga.. I only have about 1,500 .22lr. I am better off than I was in 2008 but I am hardly ready for teotwawki. I guess we do what we can.

    Ball ammo is available here in Colorado (9mm, .45, .38, 5.56) through small manufacturers and reman companies. I have been caught with only about 1,500 .22lr, with no more in sight for the future. Costs are expensive compared to the good old days but not prohibitively so given this brave new world where we prosecute the victims and make celebrities of the thugs and terrorists.

    Don't forget to set aside food, water supply systems, alternative cooking, heating, and everything else. It could be a bumpy road.


  11. AnonymousJuly 23, 2013

    That sort of ammo count is heavy to move. I guess in Aus we have no semi autos anymore, so that sort of ammo reserve is way more than necessary. A fire fight is going to be over in way fewer rounds.

  12. AnonymousJuly 27, 2013

    Reloading can reduce the cost long term but components are still hard to come by and it requires a time commitment.