First, several questions need to be asked.
1. Exactly what are you storing it for? For the Survivalist, it is food gathering (hunting) and home or self-defense.
2. How long will the situation causing the need last? Let’s assume TSHTF and commonsense says it will be 5 years. So for a baseline let’s use a five (5) year SHTF time frame.
3. Could buying and storing ammo be a legitimate investment like gold? Yes and very likely as a barter item for stuff you may need and can’t buy. In my case yes, it has because most was bought 8-10 years ago when .223’s were $125/1,000.
Let’s look at the food gathering ammo needed for five (5) years.
Hunting Large Game
Using a centerfire rifle or a shotgun using slugs: (stock 180 rounds)
Your centerfire hunting rifle or the very capable shotgun really doesn’t need a large amount of cartridges if used for larger animal food gathering. If you live in a game rich area and depending on the size of your family or group, you may take 2-6 deer or similar sized game per year. Another point about large game harvesting. To make it last you must have refrigeration or be skilled at preserving it with other means like salting or canning.
Let’s assume you know how to hunt game and the worst case is 3 shots for the kill or three rounds per animal. At the kill/ammo rate mentioned that’s 18 cartridges a year for six animals. For five years of hunting that’s only 90 rounds!
Now let’s say Murphy’s Law is around so things aren’t going to be perfect and the kill shot attempts are many due to long distances and misses are likely. Or something you really didn’t plan on, relatives who didn’t prep move in and now you have to feed them also. So for a backup amount my preference would be to store 2x the perfect amount (90) or 180 rounds for the five years.
Hunting Small Game
Using a shotgun with #6 shot: (stock 3,000 rounds of #6 shot)
Shotguns are the ultimate and most productive food gathering tool. From rabbits and squirrels to birds and deer you just can’t beat this gun. With a shotgun you may have to hunt 2-3 times per week or about 150 hunts per year. If you use 2 rounds per hunting day, that’s 300 rounds per year or for five years 1,500 rounds!
My preferred shot size is #6 for small game and birds because the bb’s are large enough to kill quickly and there are fewer of them so you tend not to destroy the meat with many smaller hits. I don’t try and stock specific shot sizes for specific game, it will add considerably to the cost of your stock and is basically a waste of your money.
Using my 2x rule that comes to 600 shot shells per year or for 5 years is 3,000 rounds to store. Kind of a surprising amount isn’t it!
Hunting Small Game
Using a 22 rimfire: (stock 3,000 rounds)
The 22 is a great small game rifle. Accurate out to 75 yards they are the most inexpensive food gathering tools you can own and use.
Using the same hunting scenario as the shot gun, 150 hunts per year, you need to store 3,000 rounds for a five year period.
Personal Defense, Concealed Carry Hand Guns
For your primary pistol caliber: (stock 1,000 rounds)
Hand guns are necessary during SHTF. They are for concealed carry for immediate protection or to get you safely back to your home or to suitable defense weapons. Calibers can be any of the most common like the 38 special, 9mm, 40 cal and 45 cal. Because these are so common they have good prices on this ammo so it’s easy and cheap to stock up on enough to meet your needs.
It is difficult to come up with an amount to stock because the hand gun is mainly for defense so it shouldn’t be used much if at all. So for some target practice I would think 200 rounds per year would be good or 1,000 rounds for five years.
Centerfire Rifles, Carbines or Shotguns: (stock the amount that gives you comfort)
Let’s hope this need never materializes, but it can. Remember Watts, New Orleans after Katrina and other cities that the so called underprivileged or unprepared go nuts! If you are counting on the overpaid and incompetent police force to help you during this time forget it, they will be nowhere to be found and you’re on your own!
This is a situation that you must thoughtfully review multiple scenarios of attacks against your home and how you would counter them.
Here where I live, we average a murder every two days, some are drive-bys firing through the walls of a house and killing kids in their beds. My point here is the walls of your home don’t stop bullets so what would you do for cover? Think about it!
So how much ammo should you stock form home defense? Hard to say but the amount chosen for each weapon you have should give you comfort.