How much is enough when stockpiling ammo?

All preppers understand the importance of ammunition. Regardless of where you look, all survivalist websites will tell you that you need to have a gun (and the ammo to match) to defend you and your loved ones from any harm. Chances are, you’re already a responsible owner of a firearm.

But here’s where we jump into a stickier topic: How much ammo should you be stockpiling for SHTF situations?

Unlike with food and medical supplies, people will tell you that the ammo you plan on stockpiling is “too much.” Or, they go on the opposite end and tell you that you need something along the range of 10,000 rounds without really telling you why you need so many.

To help you decide on how much ammo you would need for the uncertain future, you need to develop a plan on how exactly you will use your firearm.

The basics

Let’s begin by talking about how many guns is enough. Take note that the information we’ll be listing below are general rules — feel free to adapt them to your own situation.

During survival situations, your gun will need to serve two basic purposes: defense and hunting.

You’ll need to decide what type of gun(s) you’re going to have on-hand for either purpose. You may decide to have one gun per purpose, or you can have a firearm that functions for both reasons. A great example would be an AR-15. Have it chambered for .223 and buy a .22 long rifle adaptor kit for it, and the carbine can be used for both defense AND hunting.

Ideally, each member of your party should have a long gun – such as a rifle or shotgun – and a pistol. The latter is included as it is smaller and will (most likely) always be on your person. Rifles, while equally essential, may need to be slung over the shoulder and placed on the ground while you accomplish other tasks.

Now, on ammo

If you’re planning on using your gun for home defense, there is no need to go crazy on your purchases. A good comparison is to take a look at what infantry soldiers bring to battle – what is known as “basic combat load.” This is the amount of ammo soldiers assume they will use in one day’s worth of fighting.

The basic load of rifle ammunition for an infantry soldier is around 200 rounds. That is roughly seven 30-round magazines. One is in their rifle, while the others are in the ammo pouches on their chest rig. For pistols, the basic load is three magazines’ worth.

You should have ammo for both.

However, we are using this as a basis of comparison. It is highly unlikely that you will need this much. Most preppers would need only two magazines – at most – for each.

Remember that ammo is also extremely heavy. If you’re bugging out, you probably won’t be able to take more than two basic loads with you. (Related: Emergency preparedness: 7 Common mistakes preppers often make.)

Now, if you’re planning on using your ammo for hunting, you would need to determine your specific survival plans. If you intend to stay at home during a crisis, you will not need to stockpile a lot of ammo. However, if you’re planning on living off the land, or are going to spend most of your time in a cabin in the woods, you may need a little bit more.

Still, be realistic as to your abilities and how much ammo you will use. If you’re hunting large game, you may need only two to three rounds. Bird hunting may use as many as six.

We recommend figuring out the worst-case scenario for how long you are expecting to be in “survival mode.” After that, you should decide how often you will go hunting. If you plan on doing that two to three times a week, and using maybe three rounds of ammo per hunt, you would only need around 365 rounds of ammo to survive a year.


Let’s use this as an example. You have an AR-15 as your primary defense and hunting weapon, and carrying a 9mm Glock as your sidearm. Two basic loads for your AR-15 is 420 rounds. A year’s worth of hunting is around 365 rounds. That makes for 785 rounds.

You would also need 102 rounds of 9mm for the two basic combat loads to fill three magazines for your Glock.

Keep in mind that these are basic figures. We are not including the ammo that you would need for training. That’s another issue entirely.

Read more articles on self-defense and stockpiling ammo at

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