I've stumbled (via e-mail) into quite the heated debate over what one needs in the way of reserve ammunition supplies, particularly if there are severe disruptions to what one can buy in the shops for an extended period. (I'm sure many of us recall the "ammo drought" of 2013, and the instant shortage of M855 ammunition after a BATFE announcement that same year.) I'm pretty sure we'll see such shortages again, for any of a number of reasons - not least political disruption. California is already forbidding bulk ammo sales from out of state direct to shooters, and from next year will require a background check to buy ammo. (That will involve logging all ammo purchases, which inevitably means the authorities will build up a register of who buys what cartridges and calibers, and in what quantity.) Other liberal states are sure to follow suit. In the wake of tragedies such as the Parkland school shooting, there are always calls to restrict ammo supply, or set or tighten limits on how much ammo a shooter can store at home (some restrictions already exist: here, for example, are the Massachusetts regulations), or whatever.
Given those realities, it makes absolute sense to build up a stockpile of ammunition in the calibers and cartridges one shoots. I know some shooters take this to extremes, particularly those with full-auto weapons (i.e. licensed machine guns), who may shoot thousands of rounds during a range session. Here, for example, is a video of the famous "Night Shoot" at the bi-annual Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot in Kentucky. I'd guess that up to (perhaps over) a hundred thousand rounds went downrange that night, and a lot more than that over the entire weekend!
I know one machine-gun enthusiast whose ammo stockpile is, at the time of writing, just under a million rounds - and that's the lowest it's been for a while. He's buying more!
For those of us whose wallets won't run to such a profligate expenditure of ammunition, we must work out how much to stockpile. I wrote about this before, and I suggest you read that article before continuing with this one. I think what I said then still holds true. However, in the light of the changing political and social context, it's time to revisit the subject, particularly because ammunition is becoming a political football. Taxes and fees are easier for anti-gun forces to enact than gun control, where that pesky Second Amendment gets in the way of their desires. See, for example:
- Dems propose up to 50 percent tax on guns, ammo to fund research, safety programs
- Judge Okays Gun & Ammo Tax After Legal Challenge From NRA, Gun Rights Groups
- Taxing Guns, Ammo? Load Up for a Fight
It's a sobering thought that an emergency ammo stash is more likely to be needed in certain parts of the country than in others. We saw recently that left-wing administrations are quite prepared to hobble their law enforcement agencies in civil unrest or crime situations, if that suits their political agenda (see Baltimore and Charlottesville for recent examples). If you found yourself in those cities at times like that, wouldn't you (and perhaps your family and friends) want all the defensive capability you could muster? I certainly would! When the law is selectively enforced, we have little choice but to ensure our own security.
One of the big questions in the heated debate I mentioned is that of reloading one's own ammunition versus stockpiling already-loaded rounds. The reloaders insist (correctly) that they can assemble ammo much cheaper than they can buy it, and that if they run low, they can always sit down at the reloading press and crank out a few hundred more rounds. Others (including myself) point out that when trouble comes, one is unlikely to have the time available to reload more ammo. What one has on hand is, effectively, one's total supply. I've got no problem with reloading to build up that supply, but that only works before the emergency or after it's over. During it, reloading will most likely be impractical. Also, if another ammo shortage hits, reloading components will be in as short supply as loaded ammunition. (Many reloading components such as powder, primers, etc. are still in short supply after the last one!)
This applies even more to those who worry about TEOTWAWKI situations. If any "prepper" or "survivalist" thinks they can reload at will during the zombie apocalypse or something like it, they clearly haven't been in any long-term emergency situations. (I have, even if only in passing. Africa taught me that.) You'll be so busy scavenging for and preparing food, getting firewood, and doing the many other things essential to daily living - without the benefit of appliances, automation, supermarkets, etc. - that you simply won't have time to reload. If you study not-too-distant history (for example, the settling of the American West), it's amazing how much time pioneers had to devote to the simple, ordinary, everyday aspects of life like those. Even something simple like laundry, all done by hand at every stage of the process, could take one or two people several hours. Automation has spoiled us. Can you imagine a modern family, dumped without adequate warning or preparation into that sort of lifestyle? Talk about a disaster . . . !
I've reloaded before, and found it an enjoyable hobby; but I'm under no illusions about being able to provide for all my needs that way. Even in my normal everyday life, being self-employed as a writer, I have to work hard, and I use most of the hours available for that and family needs. I can no longer afford the time to reload; so I buy what I think I need.
I think it's not a bad idea to have available at least 100 rounds of quality defensive ammunition for every one of your primary defensive and/or hunting weapons, and sufficient magazines in which to load it ready for immediate use, plus up to a couple of years' supply of practice and plinking ammunition. Add to that provision for family and friends, and you can quickly end up with several thousand rounds. Some have a lot more than that. It all depends on how you assess the risk, and what you're prepared to invest (in time and/or money) to alleviate it.