Survival Basics

How Much Ammunition is Enough?

The ability to defend ourselves is an important part of surviving. There are many survival scenarios where the chances of encountering dangerous people or dangerous animals are very real. So, we buy guns and ammo, tying to make sure we are ready to defend ourselves. But the question is how much ammunition is enough?

Defending ourselves and attacking others are two distinctly different things. I see a lot of preppers with AR-15s, which are great defensive rifles, if your home comes under attack by a hungry gang. On the other hand, I see a lot of sniper rifles too. Unless those are hunting rifles in disguise, I’m not really sure what scenario they are thinking of, where using a sniper rifle to shoot their enemies can be considered to be self-defense. 

Firearms selections

Nevertheless, firearms selections are about as personal as you can get in the survival community. We all have our own ideas about what’s appropriate and what’s ideal and we buy accordingly. What’s actually more important is how competent we are with the guns that we have. 

How Much Ammunition is Enough?

How much ammunition to stockpile

Another big debate is over how much ammunition to stockpile. That’s a difficult one, as we don’t know what sort of survival scenario we’re stockpiling for. Perhaps that’s why some people give blanket answers like 10,000 rounds or 1,000 rounds per gun. 

Like many people, I have several different calibers of firearms, both in pistols and rifles, although I only have one shotgun gauge. But assuming we leave practice ammo out of the question, I can’t see any situations where I can imagine myself going through 1,000 rounds of pistol ammo; either for my EDC pistol or for what I think of as my combat pistol, the one I would probably carry in a for-real breakdown of society type scenario. 


Pistols are purely defensive. As one famous marksmanship instructor put it, “A pistol is so that you have something to fight with, while making your way back to your long gun.” Using it as a defensive firearm, I can’t think of a single situation where I would go through three full magazines of ammo, let alone more. 

For that matter, the 1,000 rounds of rifle ammo seems a bit high too. Especially when we compare it to what the Army thinks an infantry solder should carry. Army doctrine calls for an infantryman’s basic ammo load to be seven 30-round magazines. That’s a total of 210 rounds. For those carrying a pistol, the basic load is three magazines, one in the gun and two in magazine pouches. With the new SIG Sauer M17 & M18 pistols, which use 17 or 21 round magazines, that works out to either 51 or 60 rounds of ammunition. 

How Much Ammunition is Enough?

So, the question then is, how many basic loads of ammunition do you think you’ll go through, killing others, before someone will manage to kill you? Do you actually think you’ll manage to go through more than two or three full-scale attacks, before they finish you off? In reality, the amount of ammo you need, is the amount that will get you through to that point. 

That’s not to say that you have to limit yourself to just that much ammo. When things get bad, ammunition will probably become one of the most valuable trade goods available; especially .22LR, which will be used for hunting small game. All I’m saying is, don’t let someone scare you into spending a lot of money on ammo that you’ll never use. 

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