Mar 08

Ammunition and Magazine recommendations

PMAG and Ammo

Lots of hype concerning ammunition and magazines these days.  With some lawmakers pushing to restrict online ammo sales and magazine capacity (in some states this has already happened) the market and consumers have both reacted.  Supplies are slim, with “in stock” notification emails going out and quantities being snatched up in mere minutes.  Prices are higher than normal with consumers willing to pay almost double the going rate compared to this time last year, fear of continued shortages and pending legislation continuing to spur sales along.  Some people are buying just for the sake of buying, continuing to stockpile while telling themselves “just one more order and that will be it, I’m sure of it.”  Others are even purchasing on credit, telling themselves that this circumstance surely justifies using the plastic, after all in a few more months the opportunity to purchase could be gone altogether.

What’s the end state of all this?  What should our goal be when it comes to stockpiling ammunition and magazines?  The answer should not surprise you:  it depends.  There are many factors to be considered when trying to answer this question, but the main ones are most likely related to one’s financial disposition and the amount of time dedicated to shooting every year.  Additionally and more importantly, as I have written about before it’s is not always about guns and ammo.  If you have 3 months worth of food and water, a $20 first aid kit, but 100,000 rounds of ammunition and 50 PMAGs for your stockpile of 10 AR15’s I’d say something is wrong with your prioritization techniques.  So let’s keep all that in mind and take a look at four categories of ammunition and magazine stockpiling recommendations.

The Minimum.  For those who are tight on cash flow but still want to devote some attention to keeping a basic stash on hand.  These types probably get out to shoot a few times a year just to maintain a basic level of proficiency.  Purchasing ammo or mags is usually done in much smaller quantities, boxes of 100 rounds at a time and 1 or 2 mags online.

Rifle Mags: 4 per rifle.

Rifle Ammo: 500 rounds each.

Pistol Mags: 2 per pistol.

Pistol Ammo: 200 rounds each.

Monthly Shooter.  Individuals who get out to the range once a month (or so) and burning up a few hundred rounds while in the process.  Run through a few simple drills but all rounds are specifically allocated before even heading out.  They will shoot 200 rifle rounds, 50 pistol rounds doing X number of drills and that’s it.  They aren’t rich by any means but can afford to shoot and purchase on a regular basis.

Rifle Mags: 8 per rifle.

Rifle Ammo: 2000 rounds each.

Pistol Mags: 5 per pistol.

Pistol Ammo: 1000 rounds each.

Optimal Stash.  These individuals have a little more freedom with their cash flow and can afford to stock crates a little deeper after purchasing online.  Maybe they don’t go to the range more often than the monthly shooter, but they definitely don’t worry about round count or allocating each mag for a specific drill.  Sure they will do some training but why not do a few mag dumps for the heck of it.  They stockpile to shoot, to barter and because they like not having to worry about price fluctuations.

Rifle Mags: 12 per rifle.

Rifle Ammo: 5000 rounds each.

Pistol Mags: 10 per pistol.

Pistol Ammo: 3000 rounds each.

Money No Object.  As some call it, Big Willy Style.  Why not buy 10 ARs and 10 Wilson Combat 1911’s, it’s only money!

Rifle Mags: 30 per rifle.

Rifle Ammo: 100,000 rounds each.

Pistol Mags: 20 per pistol.

Pistol Ammo: 50,000 rounds each.

I should make one point before closing this article out.  If you are going to buy magazines please do not buy cheap.  By cheap I mean the Chinese knockoffs that are 1/3 the cost of factory (or other higher quality) magazines.  Most of the time you will only be disappointed with the performance you get from those things.  If you are worried about your stash being too light at the present moment, it would appear as if prices are stabilizing so that’s a good thing.  Supplies are still tight but that will soon start to stabilize here in the next few months (I hope).


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    • Digby on March 11, 2013 at 7:09 PM
    • Reply

    I would like to know how you reached your 100,000 and 50,000 round figures for the “money no object” recommendation.

    I seriously doubt that I could shoot up that much ammo in a lifetime, even if I were a much younger man.

    Do you have any kind of rationale behind your numbers? Anybody who plans to use that much ammo in combat does not have enough of a life expectancy to use it all, unless he had help.

    If I shot 500 rounds per month for 40 years, assuming I live that long, that would be 240,000 rounds. Hmmm, maybe your numbers aren’t that far out of line (for a younger man).

      • PJ on March 11, 2013 at 7:58 PM
      • Reply


      Thanks for asking and I’d be glad to clarify. It’s not really about shooting that much ammo up in a SHTF situation because as you noted if you need that much…you are probably dead regardless. So let’s break it down a little bit further:

      -Storing ammo takes up space and it is relatively heavy. If you have unlimited funds the purchase of that many rounds probably isn’t a huge deal but finding somewhere to store it might be, thus the 100k and 50k threshold. A box of 1,000 rounds of ammo is usually around the size of a shoe box but pretty heavy. Finding a place to stack 150 shoe boxes could be challenging.

      -If one has unlimited funds I would assume that person would also have no problem going shooting…a lot. Besides personal range time this person would no doubt be attending tactical training schools around the country. There have been times on the range where I have burned through almost 2,000 rounds and that was on a 2 day weekend. Someone who doesn’t have to worry about prices could do that a couple times a month plus attend schools where ammunition requirements are similar. All of a sudden the 100k / 50k amount doesn’t seem as large as it once was.

      -Finally there are other comparisons to be made. While guys like you and I have to buy our ammo and don’t shoot as much as “hardcore” enthusiasts or the military, there are units out there where each individual will blow through 100k rounds (for each gun they train on) in a couple months or less. That’s some serious shooting.

      The bottom line is the 100k / 50k was an educated guess, no real hard facts to substantiate my rationale. Thanks for the comment 🙂

    • The Maj on March 15, 2013 at 10:11 AM
    • Reply

    Interesting topic and I am surprised there hasn’t been more discussion. One thing I have always found humorous on this topic is the sheer volumes of ammo quantities that are thrown around without any consideration of Bugout vs RIP. Each situation is totally different when it comes to bulk of material considerations.

    Consider this, which I am certain many here already know, but next to water, ammo is one of the heaviest items you will have to account for in planning.

    Just some general ammo weights (these will vary slightly by manufacturer):

    .223 / 5.56mm: 100 rds = 3 lbs (33.33 rds/lb)
    7.62x39mm: 100 rds = 3.63 lbs (27.59 rds/lb)
    .308 / 7.62×51: 100 rds = 5.25 lbs (19.05 rds/lb)

    9mm Luger: 100 rds = 2.63 lbs (38.1 rds/lb)
    .45 ACP: 100 rds = 4.69 lbs (21.32 rds/lb)

    12GA (Avg): 100 rds = 10.75 lbs (9.3 rds/lb)

    .22LR: 100 rds = 0.75 lbs (133.33 rds/lb)

    Now, if you stockpile 50,000 rounds of 5.56 you are looking at about 1,500 pounds of ammunition. RIP is no big deal but Bugout you might manage to carry some of it in a vehicle but when you consider everything else you have to pack into your vehicle (and your vehicles cube), you will be hard pressed to find the space for 50,000 rounds. That is just one example, with one type of ammo but you can play around with the numbers for your own unique scenario to determine what is realistic and what isn’t.

    When you throw everything on your back, the dynamics change even more. The basic load (which is BS but another discussion all together) for 5.56 is 210 rounds (7 each 30 round magazines at about 1 pound each) and with magazines equates to roughly 7 pounds. The basic load for your 9mm sidearm would be 45 rounds and equate to roughly an additional 2 pounds when magazines are considered. This would bring your total to about 9 pounds of ammo. So lets just say that 90 pounds is the max you should consider carrying on your back, after ammo you are left with 81 pounds of “space” to carry everything else that you need (water, food, shelter, personal hygiene, fire/light, etc). How much of that “space” can you dedicate for ammo? A better question would be, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to carry more ammo?

    Now, a basic load considers that resupply will happen in three days, which is unrealistic in a SHTF scenario, so personally, I would aim higher on my numbers but you will still have to sacrifice something in space or weight in order to accomplish that. One thing that I have considered is consolidating to one caliber in a Bugout situation which would provide me the opportunity to multi-task sidearm/rifle ammo. The most obvious caliber for that would be .22LR which would allow me to carry 1,200 rounds in that same 9 pounds of “space”. Naturally the draw back is the limitations of the .22LR. However, there are other calibers that can be dual purposed like the .44 Magnum or .357 Magnum or the 9mm and there are some decent carbines chambered in those calibers as well.

      • PJ on March 16, 2013 at 10:06 PM
      • Reply

      Weight is most definitely an issue to consider when stockpiling ammunition. Bugging in really doesn’t matter much as long as you have adequate space for your stash, but as you mentioned when you toss a ruck on things change. I think the misconception is out there that one needs to be outfitted as an assaulter for a bugout, and by that I mean 8 mags on a chest rig and 10 more in the ruck. Body armor, helmet, knee pads, leg drop and every other piece of matching multicam gear. It all adds up and after mile # 10 (many won’t make it that far) priorities start to change. Why do my feet hurt, why do my shoulder blades feel like they are going to snap, why have I gone through so much water already….et al.

      Great suggestion on the 22LR by the way. Great for hunting small game and one could carry loads of ammo with relative ease. In a BO situation the goal is to stay alive and avoiding conflict is one of the keys to staying alive. If someone wants to outfit themselves like an assaulter with the mindset that they can shoot their way out of every situation, that’s all good but it probably isn’t the best course of action.

      Great stuff Maj, thanks for sharing.

  1. If you need to bug out on foot it’s suggest you don’t carry more than 25-33% of your own body wait. I would highly suggest you take a good tactical .22LR rifle with a 1000-3000 rds. And then a good side arm in .40 caliber and 1000-1500 rds. I suggest the Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 it’s a .22LR in an AR platform which was subsequently designed from the ground up. It’s an AR with full functions, except that it shoots .22LR rounds and the bolt action is “Blow-Back” opposed to Gas/Piston Impingement…,which blow back is much easier to clean. Remember you;re going to have to bring gun cleaning in your bug out bag. The .22LR can be quite lethal if you place your bullets in the right place. If you train with a gun you should always do Double Tap…i.e., disburse 2 quick/short controlled rounds then aquire your target and 2 more rds etc. It you discharge 2-3 short burst rds of a .22LR in the chest area or head..a person is going down and dead too. The .22 weapon I spoke of in the aforementioned shots 25 rd magazine and they cost only $17 at midway. I am well versed in weapons and if I have to bug out taking my 22 AR rifle and my FN-FNS .40 cal as my side arm. Then a good boot knife and a big knife on my waistline. Another thing you don’t want strangers to know what you have….so not wise to show your weapons off. If anyone needs more advise from me. Please dont hesitate to contact me at ……in subject field just sstate you’re a Prepper like me. And I will correspond with you and help anyway i can. I live in the country side in Nashville on quite a bit of land. And retired law enforcement which I was at a federal level. So if I bug out its to a friends house. Since it will be cities that will initially become violent. Prep well everyone and lets hope we never have to use what we know and have. Something tells me, that wont be the case though. Something is going on and it will happen. It wont be economic collapse because America has too many reduntancy systems in place for that to happen. What’s happening in europe and to the EU cant happen here. Remember we contol our currency…they don’t over europe. And also America is one of the few countries that could be isolationist and sustain ourselves quite well. Our country was isolationlist before we entered WWII and we were doing just fine. But me and you guy want to be as comfortable as possible when TSHTF for as long as it last. As far as bunkers I don’t suggest them. Psychologically humans dont do well long term over 30 days being locked where you don;t hear sound see the outdoors hear rain or see sunshine etc. You can make it above ground fine Just need to be smart and preferrably in the country side. Most small communities people know one another well and stand by one another. Again, be happy to discuss this in private….email is and my name is Rick S.

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