Letter Re: Silver Coinage and Ammunition for Barter

Dear Jim:
I am thoroughly enjoying your web site and appreciate very much all of your quality information. Recently you had an article about storing coins and ammo for barter and trade purposes. I would like to ask several questions about this subject.
1.) You mentioned pre-1965 silver dimes, but what about silver quarters and half-dollar coins?
2.) Do you recommend gold coins? I understand the inherent problems with gold bars and bullion, but what about .10, .25, and .50 ounce gold coins for barter?
3. What types and quantities of .22 ammo do you suggest? Stingers, hollow points or FMJ? and in what quantities of each?
4.) Do you recommend storing up primarily hollow points or FMJ in the other calibers?
I’m sure that the other blog readers have similar questions and we thank you for your help.
B’shem Yahshua Ha Moshiach, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR Replies:

In answer to your questions…

1.) I mentioned pre-1965 silver dimes only because they are the smallest denomination U.S. 90% silver coins. Dimes will be perfect for barter transactions like a can of beans or a loaf of bread. Quarters, half-dollars, and even silver dollars are also good to keep on hand for bartering–but only for larger items/quantities, unless you want to use a cold chisel. BTW, U.S. silver dollars are much more expensive per ounce, but since silver coinage has been out of circulation in the U.S., for 40+ years and public knowledge of them is fading, silver dollars are undeniably the most recognizable silver coins for barter with the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). I recommend that you get a mix of coins, but mostly dimes.

2.) As I illustrated in the Barter Faire chapter of my novel Patriots, I do not recommend gold coins for barter.Even the smallest gold bullion coin (1/10th ounce) is still worth about $50 at present and will probably be worth at least four times that When the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF). They are much too compact a form of wealth for most barter transactions. However, gold coins do serve two useful purposes: Firstly, due to their compactness (per dollar), they are ideal for a last ditch “I need to flee the country, tonight” form of portable wealth. (I couldn’t imagine lugging a bunch of $1,000 face value silver bags (at 55 pounds each) or 100 ounce silver Engelhard bars under such circumstances. Secondly, gold coins are good long term store of wealth to protect the value of your savings from one side of a monetary crisis to the other. (The “time machine” effect that I mentioned in a previous blog post.) But again, don’t buy gold coins for barter. But you should first buy a $1,000 face value “junk” (circulated pre-1965) silver bag each member of your family, for barter purposes. Only then should you consider buying any gold coins or silver bullion.

3.) Stingers tend to have erratic velocity, so I don’t recommend them. I do recommend storing standard factory (Remington or Winchester) .22 Long Rifle hollow points for barter. Buy as many as your budget allows. I personally have 15,000 .22 cartridges set aside for small game hunting and target practice, and another 25,000 set aside for barter. The nice thing about .22 rimfire ammo is that it is relatively inexpensive and very compact. You can fit 4,500 rounds in just one ammo can. They are also divisible for smaller purchases. As a barter item, 50 cartridge boxes of .22 LR will be very desirable. (They will mean “meat on the table” for a lot of hungry families.)

4.) I recommend storing primarily pointed soft point ammunition for hunting rifle calibers, (with perhaps 30% in FMJ loadings for calibers like 5.56mm NATO and 7.62×39). Buy nearly all hollow points for your pistol calibers. WTSHTF, people are going to want to acquire man stopper loads rather than plinking ammo.