How to find ammo when SHTF

A gun is useless without its ammo. When SHTF, you need to take every precaution that you won’t run out of it. However, given our current political climate, it may become harder to stockpile ammo, so it is crucial that you know how to find them during emergencies. Here are a few suggestions.


It is likely that during a crisis, our economy would revert to the bartering system. People would trade items that they have for things that they need, including ammo. All preppers understand the importance of knowing how to barter when SHTF, and may use this form of economy to get the ammo they require.

That said, there is a lot of discussion on whether it’s a smart idea to barter ammo in the first place. Some survivalists argue that doing so increases potential danger (more bullets being distributed to unknown hands) while others say that it is not about what is being bartered, but how.

We recommend that you maintain common sense when bartering. Make sure to set up your trade in a fair, safe way to ensure that aren’t being taken advantage of. If you have any spare supplies, you need to guard them even if you aren’t planning on using them for barter. It is also a safe idea to never go into any transaction without some sort of backup. Try, as much as possible, to have someone with you while you are making a trade. (Related: Prepping to barter when SHTF: What skills to learn and items to stockpile.)

Make your own

It is important to remember that the terms bullet, ammo, and cartridge are not the same, despite them being interchanged quite frequently. When people say bullet, they often really mean cartridge.

A cartridge consists of four parts: the bullet, powder, primer, and casing. When you pull the trigger, the primer is expended and sets off the powder which causes the bullet to come out of the barrel. Every time you fire your gun, you would need to replace the primer, powder, and bullet.

It is possible to make your own ammo; though we won’t be getting into that here. There are online tutorials you can find, but we caution against using those as they are not regulated nor verified to be accurate or safe. Wherever you decide to research, make sure that you go to a trusted source.

Be creative

Yes, the brown stuff may have hit the fan but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all things are lost. There is still a probability that there will be some stores out there that are selling ammo legitimately. You may want to get a little creative with this, though. Finding cheap yet reliable ammo for a SHTF scenario is difficult, but doable. You may want to try looking at different gun forums or looking for online sellers. Keep in mind that in gun forums, you may have to bid for your ammo within a time limit. When dealing with these sites, make sure that you only trade with reputable sources. We also have to stress that when using online sites, you would need to consider shipping costs. Some sites may offer “cheap” ammo, but compensate for the cost by having you shoulder the shipping.

Lastly, we never recommend that you try to steal ammo, even when SHTF. You would be targeting someone who has ammo, which probably means you would be stealing from a gun owner. Do not make yourself into a potential target by targeting a fellow prepper.

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