Friday, June 26, 2020
What if I can't get enough ammunition for my defensive rifle?
I recently wrote a three part series of articles about the defensive rifle, focusing on the AR-15 rifle or carbine as the most common weapon in this class. In the third article, I went into detail about what ammunition was most suitable for defensive use.
I've had a couple of readers query me about that. They point out that in their localities, it's very hard to find any 5.56x45mm ammunition at all, because many gun shops are sold out of it. Supermarkets that used to sell it (e.g. Walmart) no longer do so, for politically correct reasons. Some states restrict ordering ammunition by mail, making it difficult to order in bulk. What are they to do?
Obviously, one alternative is to have weapons available that use different cartridges. A lever-action rifle firing .30-30, or .44 Magnum, or .357 Magnum ammunition will still be effective in your defense, and you should be able to find ammo for it relatively easily. However, let's assume you want to use your AR-15, and need ammo. What then?
There are a number of alternatives. The first one I'd try is to contact family and friends in areas where ammunition is still available. If they can buy some for you, and hold it until you can collect it or they come to visit you, that's quick, easy and simple. If you need it in a hurry, that may not suffice; so, if it's legal to send you ammo directly, they can make an ORM-D shipment by private contractor such as UPS or FedEx (NOT the Post Office!). Note that it will have to travel by ground transportation, due to regulations.
The second alternative is to have different upper receivers available for your weapon, chambered for different cartridges. The standard 5.56x45mm cartridge case has been used to produce different chamberings such as 6x45mm, .300 AAC Blackout, and others (see here for a list of them). One AR-15 lower receiver (the licensed part of the firearm) can therefore have upper receivers in any of the above rounds.
If one changes the bolt carrier group and magazines, one can shoot even more cartridges through the AR-15 platform. The Russian 7.62x39mm round, famous in the SKS and AK47 rifles, can easily be accommodated, as can the .350 Legend, .458 SOCOM, .450 Bushmaster, etc. The latter three rounds may be hard to find on store shelves, but they're usually available online.
If one needs to use a particular upper receiver for a given situation (e.g. hunting restrictions that forbid the use of 5.56x45mm ammo, but allow a larger round), one can use the appropriate receiver and ammunition, then swap it out for a more general-purpose one when the hunt is over. That's very convenient, and often cheaper than having a rifle for each cartridge. One can also repurpose an upper receiver by swapping the barrel for one chambered for a different cartridge, and if necessary replacing the bolt carrier group and magazines. It's not difficult. That sort of flexibility is worth having, IMHO.