In 2020, we found out just how important it is to have some ammo squirreled away for a rainy day… but honest question: how healthy is your ammunition stockpile today?
First, I suppose we should get some terminology out of the way: when you think ammunition “stockpile” how much ammo comes to mind? If you are in the liberal media that has no clue about gun culture, a “stockpile” is anything over a couple hundred rounds of ammunition. (Heck I have that sitting in loaded AR mags right now!).
To a gun guy (or gal) no amount of ammunition is ever really enough, so stockpile could be anything from a few hundred rounds to a tractor trailer full. But just so we can level-set this discussion, let’s create some “tiers” for an ammunition stockpile that don’t rely on the number of rounds but are based more on how quickly it will be depleted with use.
Ammunition Stockpile Tiers
5 - Inadequate - A box or two for your primary defensive firearms, not enough to go to the range very often.
4 - Small - 3-5 trips to the range.
3 - Healthy - Weekly range sessions for 6 months (26 trips).
2 - Abundant - Can weather an ammo shortage lasting about a year with normal usage.
1- Incredible - Can weather a multi-year ammo shortage or true collapse of society.
Everyone should aspire to get to Tier 3 and ideally Tier 2 if possible. If you are at Tier 1 then you are in the top 10% of ammo buyers and have more ammo stockpiled away than most people! (even me!).
If you are currently at Tiers 5 or 4, then you have some work to do. There is no better time to buy ammo than right now (seriously).
In my opinion, everyone should be at Tier 3 where they have enough ammo on hand to go to the range every week for 6 months and shoot a modest amount of ammo training. Again, since everyone is different, the actual amount of ammo will be different.
Also one thing people get wrapped up on: this doesn’t have to apply to every single caliber you own!
I own a healthy number of guns in multiple calibers but for purposes of my personal “stockpile” I only count my “go to” guns for self defense (AR15, .40 M&P, 9mm Sig P365, 12ga Beretta 1301). Your mileage will vary. I'm not going to worry about stocking up large amounts of .45 Long Colt, for example. If I have a few boxes for occasional fun at the range then I'm happy.
My real world example
My go to rifle is an AR15 (like many folks) and my standard range session is 3 fully loaded mags (90 rounds). So to be comfortable at Tier 3, I should have 90rnds x 26wks = 2,340 rounds of 223/556 on hand.
I can do the same thing with 40 S&W and 9mm for my main sidearm and carry pistol, respectively. I should also include my shotgun even though I don’t train with it as often (shame on me). But I can use a typical range session with the shotgun as a yardstick. If I were going out this weekend to train on shotgun skills I would most likely take 50 rounds of birdshot, 20 rounds of buck, and probably 10 slugs.
So using my handy-dandy calculator that means I should be stockpiling:
50 Birdshot x 26 = 1300
20 Buckshot x 26 = 520
10 Slugs x 26 = 260
Do I have that much on hand? Good question, I don’t know! Shame on me. I should know, but if I had to guess I probably have at least half that sitting at home.
I will tell you one thing though - I would include in my stockpile numbers whatever ammo I have at AmmoSquared because I have 12ga Buck Practice and 223/556, amongst other calibers there. Like this:
(Full disclaimer this is actually my wife’s account because she accumulates “the basics” (12ga, 22LR, 223/556) while I tend to accumulate the “exotics” in my account (5.7x28, 300BLK, 10mm, etc))
So when I take inventory at home I add our respective AmmoSquared balances to that number and make sure I have at least half of my inventory at home for SHTF.
[Side note: I just had a new product idea: would anyone be interested in some sort of ammo inventory tracking tool? Somewhere you can record what you have at home and then have your AmmoSquared inventory added to it? You could create some targets like have 60-80% at home and as that draws down you get a shipment from your AmmoSquared inventory? That might be worth exploring...]
So today when I take inventory at home I use the same broad categories we use at AmmoSquared for shorthand: Practice, Self Defense, Hunting, Competition. I’m sure many people (all you engineer and accountant types) prefer to go into finer detail like listing out brand and bullet weight.
Either way the goal is to find out how much I have and whether I need to buy more to meet my stockpile goals.
My personal goal is to stay at a solid Tier 3 and progress to Tier 4 over time. It is a constant see-saw between using up the ammo I have and buying more! If I am at Tier 3 and at replenish a little more than what I shoot, I'm in good shape.
How do you progress through the tiers?
Time, money and prioritization.
How important is ammunition? Well that depends… if you are staring down a would be attacker at the ATM or see a violent mob at the end of your block, ammunition is pretty darn important. But in the grand scheme of life building an ammunition stockpile drops off quickly when there are competing priorities like mortgage or rent payments, groceries and contributing to your 401k or pension for retirement.
Really the questions we should all be asking ourselves, 1) are we satisfied with our current stockpile and 2) if not, how should we be adding to it?
For example, you can focus on just one gun/caliber until you are up to a solid tier 3 with that then move to the next caliber. Or just bite the bullet and invest the cash in getting yourself to where you want to be. Another strategy, if you are an AmmoSquared customer, is to increase your budget or even just your percentage going toward to "go-to" guns until you reach your goal.
In my example, I can say for sure I’m good on 223/5.56, 40 and 9mm but I’m not at Tier 3 for my shotgun rounds. So I need to work on that. (Good thing Danielle is already accumulating some in her AmmoSquared account!) We'll just up our budget or percent for awhile until we reach our goal.
AmmoSquared is really just another weapon in your ammunition management arsenal. You can use it to build up a caliber or two while your at-home ammo is being drawn down through regular range practice. If you are looking at the overall amount when calculating your stockpile numbers, I recommend keeping at least half of your ammo at home for SHTF.
People may disagree, but I believe there does come a point of diminishing returns with regards to storing ammunition at home for personal use due to environmental threats (flood, fire, etc) and theft. If you are already at Tier 3, depending on your personal comfort level, but having at least 20% and up to 50% in a separate location is a good strategy for diversification purposes.
If you are at Tier 2 and Tier 1 and not diversifying your holdings then you are taking unnecessary risk, in my opinion.
So take a look at the above Tiers and figure out where you are today and where you want to be. Make a plan to make it happen. Ammo prices have come down and availability and selection are up so now is a great time to buy.
Also if you have read this far and you haven’t yet started an account at AmmoSquared.com, I would highly recommend it! It is an amazing tool to help you stay stocked up.