Ammo for Survival

AmmoSurvival Ammo Supply

Having a good stockpile of the right ammo on hand is essential to a well thought out survival strategy. I am always amused when I hear “gun nuts” talking about their numerous rifles chambered in rare and exotic calibers. Bottom Line Up Front: Keep your ammo calibers (and chamberings – cartridge sizes) to a minimum and stock up on ammo that is common to your survival group.

Start With the Basics

Ammo in a wide array of cartridge sizes and calibers over-complicates your survival plan. I recommend no more than two different cartridge sizes/calibers for pistols and up to five chamberings/calibers for your rifles (based on function). Most people won’t need even this much diversity.

For the beginner, one pistol caliber and three rifle calibers is more than sufficient. So, if you’re just getting started, I recommend the Ruger 10/22 as the best all around survival rifle. Hence, it would be wise to begin building your supply of .22 LR. This will provide a cost effective way (even at current .22 LR prices) to provide basic security and hunting capability if the SHTF.

After you have the basics covered, you can start to diversify your ammo holdings by function or purpose. Remember, the less complicated your plan, the more likely it is to be successful.

Ammo Diversity for Beginners

Ammo that will cover just about all functional needs:
  • 9 mm Luger or .45 cal. ACP
  • .22 LR
  • 5.56 x 45 mm (.223 Rem)
  • 7.62 x 51 mm (.308 Win)
  • 12 gauge shotshells (#7 Birdshot & 00-Buckshot)

Benefit of Using “NATO” Ammo

The U.S. military and many law enforcement agencies use common calibers for many of their firearms — NATO ammunition. In a long-term survival scenario you will eventually have to resupply your ammo stockpile. It will be much easier to find common calibers in chambering (cartridge sizes) that have been mass-produced and are available internationally.

Rare and exotic calibers will be gone within days or weeks of a real SHTF scenario with little to no chance of re-supply. You’ll want to stock up on ammo that is readily available at reasonable cost.

Ammo Recommendations

I prefer to keep most of my firearms chambered for NATO cartridges for three reasons:
  • Rounds are usually available at reasonable prices and quantities
  • You can acquire and share ammo more readily among “friendly” forces or within your survival group
  • It’s more likely you will be able to make use of ammunition of opportunity carried by those that have fallen along the way when the SHTF

Recommended Calibers & Cartridge Sizes (Advanced)

  • 9 x 19 mm NATO (9 mm Luger)
  • .45 cal. ACP
  • .22 LR
  • 5.56 x 45 mm NATO (.223 Rem)
  • 7.62 x 51 mm NATO (.308 Win)
  • 12-gauge shotshells
  • 7.62 x 67 mm (.300 Winchester Magnum)
  • 8.58 x 70 mm (.338 Lapua Magnum)
  • 12.7 x 99 mm NATO (.50 cal. BMG)

When the SHTF and your facing the possibility of TEOTWAWKI, beans and bullets will become the currency of the day. Having a good supply of ammunition may be almost as important as the survival essentials. For a personalized survival plan consultation, click here.

About the Author


Greg B. is the president of Survival Tactics NOW! providing professional consultation in survival planning and emergency preparedness. He is an ardent outdoorsman and wilderness survival enthusiast.