Ammo storage is just as important as food and water storage. If you don’t stockpile ammunition, your firearms will be completely useless.
This is why an ammo stockpile is a vital and critical component of any SHTF plan. Having no ammo, or at least having very limited ammo, would mean that your ability to defend yourself, your home, and your family against the inevitable raiders and mobs is incredibly limited.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about ammo storage and accumulation for SHTF purposes:
How Much Ammo Do You Truly Need?
“How much ammo do I need?” is a question that many preppers have.
The answer to this question is there is no maximum amount you can have. In other words, you can never truly have enough ammo just as you can never truly have enough food, water, or medicine.
Still, there is a minimum that you should shoot for, and that is to have at least one thousand rounds per caliber, or better yet, per weapon.
If this is too expensive for you, the next best alternative is to go with a five hundred round baseline instead, if you can.
Now one thousand or even five hundred rounds may seem like a lot. It may even seem unreasonable. After all, how are you possibly going to use one thousand rounds?
Well, the answer to this question is simple: if things get bad for an extended period of time, such as an EMP attack that could last for several years, that ammo is going to have to last you all that time for everything from target practice to defense to hunting.
Say a disaster were to last for ten years, which is certainly possible from an EMP attack. Suddenly, one thousand rounds per caliber or even per weapon doesn’t sound like a terribly large amount, does it?
And even in less drastic circumstances, it’s still a good idea to have a lot of ammo. After the threats of gun control in early 2013, for example, the price of ammunition skyrocketed and the shelves were often empty. It’s taken years for the .22 LR ammo shortage to recover, for instance.
Again, one thousand rounds of ammunition per caliber or per weapon is not at all unreasonable. If anything, it’s simply responsible.
How To Accumulate Ammunition If You Can’t Afford It
Ammo is expensive, and if money is tight, it’s perfectly understandable if it doesn’t seem realistic to accumulate 1000 rounds per caliber.
But there is a way to get around this dilemma, so long as you’re patient, and that is to make it a habit to buy just one or two boxes of ammo a week.
For reference, a box of rifle ammo typically holds 20 rounds, while a box of handgun ammo typically holds fifty rounds. This means that you could accumulate eighty rounds of rifle ammo in a month or two hundred rounds of handgun ammo. Not bad, since in just a few months you’ll be well on your way to your goal of having at least 1000 rounds stored away.
Basically, tell yourself that once a week, you’ll walk into a sporting goods store and buy a box of ammo. Alternatively, you can tell yourself that whenever you walk into a place that sells ammo, you won’t leave until you’ve bought at least one box.
With this method, your stockpile will grow slowly, but it will grow steadily and consistently, and that’s really what matters.
Another option if you’re really impatient would be to simply buy all of your ammo you need at once in bulk. Yes, you’ll pay MUCH more up front, but on the other hand, you’ll also be paying less per round, so you’ll definitely be saving money in that regard.
Should You Store Ammo You Don’t Own Guns For?
You should only store ammo for guns that you actually have or at least plan to have, right?
Actually, no. It may be wise to buy ammo, at least 1-2 boxes, for calibers that you don’t personally own or have a need for.
Well, there are a few reasons why. The first reason why is because, in an SHTF scenario, you may come across guns lying around or on the ground during a scavenging mission that you don’t have ammo for. It would probably be nice to be able to use those guns, right?
But another reason why is because you may need to barter. In an SHTF world where the economy completely collapses, money will no longer be of any real value. After all, it’s just paper.
Instead, people will be wanting things of real value, or things that they can use in their everyday life. Soap, food, water, seeds, coffee, toilet paper, and so on are examples of things that will be bartered heavily following a collapse.
And of course, ammo is going to be bartered heavily as well. It’s something that everybody understands the value of, because just a single rifle or pistol round represents the ability to defend yourself and potentially save your life, or to put food on the table.
Yes, a single round, such as a single .308 or 9mm round, can be bartered in an SHTF situation.
This is exactly why, if you can afford it, it would be smart to have at least one or two boxes of the most popular rounds of ammunition.
For reference, here’s a list of the most popular rounds that you would be wise to include in your arsenal:
- .410 Bore
- 20 Gauge
- 12 Gauge
- .22 LR
- .380 ACP
- 9mm Luger
- .40 S&W
- .45 ACP
- .38 Special
- .357 Magnum
- 56x45mm NATO
- .30-30 Winchester
- .308 Winchester
- .270 Winchester
- .30-06 Springfield
- .300 Win Mag
3 Ammo Storage Tips
Here’s a fact that many people don’t know about ammunition: it has a finite shelf life. Nothing lasts forever, and that certainly applies to ammo.
That being said, when stored under proper conditions, ammo can still last a very long time and still be safe to shoot. In fact, properly stored ammo should last fifteen to twenty years, or ten years at the very least.
You want to make sure your ammo lasts you that long if you want to protect your investment. Remember, ammo is expensive, and it’s possible you’ll be spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your stockpile. Do you really want to allow all of that to go to waste? If the answer is no, then you should pay close attention to what you’re about to read.
So what are some tips that you can use to ensure your ammo is stored properly?
1. Never Store Your Ammo Boxes Out In The Open
Instead, you need to buy an ammo container of some kind that is designed specifically for the purpose of ammo storage, and one of the best choices is the .50 caliber ammo can.
These cans are great because they are waterproof, fully sealed, and will do an excellent job of protecting your ammunition from the outside elements. For instance, a properly closed ammo can in good condition could be totally submerged for an extended period of time and it would still keep all of the contents fully dry.
A high quality .50 caliber ammo can is by far your best bet for an ammo storage container. The .50 caliber size is great because it’s large enough to keep your ammo stored while also being small enough to be carried around if necessary, which is another huge plus.
And as an added bonus, ammo cans are cheap! If you check Craigslist, yard sales, and flea markets, finding ones in good condition for ten dollars or less should be very easy.
It’s also a wise idea to only store one caliber of ammunition in each ammo can and to label it for the sake of organization.
Alright, so you need ammo cans for proper storage. But what’s the next tip?
2. Store Your Ammo Indoors
Specifically, in a room that is free of excessive heat and moisture. In other words, a dry room at normal room temperature would be excellent.
There is no greater enemy of ammo storage than moisture. It will cause your ammo to corrode and eventually just be unsuitable to shoot to the point that it’s unsafe and could literally cause your gun to blow up in your hands.
This is why having your ammo stored in a sealed can and in a dry room at normal room temperature is so important. To be on the extra safe side, you can also put a dehumidifier in your ammo storage room.
Another option is to purchase some clay desiccants or silica gel packets. These absorb humidity, so all you have to do is put a packet in with each box of ammo and it will keep your ammunition nice and dry.
3. Keep Your Ammo Secure From Intruders
You don’t want anyone with unauthorized access to get a hand on your guns or ammunition. If that happened, it could have very negative and perhaps even tragic consequences.
To prevent unauthorized access to your ammo, you need to have proper security measures in place. Keeping your ammo stored in a vault or a safe or at least an ammo cabinet is a good way to do it, otherwise you could keep them stored in a locked and secure room.
If none of those options are viable, your next best bet would be to secure locks to the outside of your cans to prevent anybody from getting in.
And even if that method doesn’t work for you, your next bet keep your ammo hidden (and preferably up high). You should be able to get pretty creative with no storing your ammunition in obvious places. A while back, I wrote an article on places to hide your guns where nobody will see them. Several of those suggestions apply to ammo as well.
Ideally, would-be intruders won’t make it into your home in the first place. To make sure they don’t, follow these home security tips for life after SHTF.
More Storage Tips
There are a few other storage tips to keep in mind. For example, you should label and rotate your ammo, and you should regularly check it for signs of corrosion. If you want to learn more, check out this list of ammo storage tips that every gun owner should know.
If you apply all of these techniques, your ammo will be safe to shoot for fifteen to twenty years, no problem.
Well, there you have it!
Hopefully, the information in this article cleared some things up for you and now you know exactly what to do. You want to store as many of the best ammo calibers as possible, and you’ll want to take very good care of them so they’ll last a long time. Apply what you’ve just learned, and you’ll be an ammo storage expert.
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