Letter Re: How Much Ammo to Store For Self Defense and Hunting?

Mr. Rawles:
I found reading your Retreat Owner Profiles fascinating. One item I noticed was that even those with incomes significantly less than mine, sometimes by a factor of 30 to 1, had much more ballistic wampum. How many rounds do you recommend for survival but not trade?[

[JWR Adds: I slightly fictionalized the following, for purposes of illustration]: My circumstances are as follows: I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, in the Mountain View farming district of North Puna, plenty of rainfall (with catchment), lots of fruit trees, fairly high elevation (only minor need of house heating). I have a house on a pair of two acre lots that are held fee simple, no debt, and some neighbors that I can trust. Most of my neighbors are on larger acreages. I have the following guns, all registered: AR-15, SIG P226 (9mm), Winchester Marine 12 gauge riotgun, Ruger Stainless 10/.22, Winchester Model 1892 .44-40 carbine (pre-1899 antique), S&W .44-40 DA top break (pre-1899 antique), S&W Model 66 .357 revolver, Ruger Old Army Stainless steel .44 (black powder revolver). Thanks! – Dr. MacNut

JWR Replies: Hawaii has a fairly high population density by mainland standards, but at least you live on the island with the lowest pop density. You are also at moderate risk of government confiscation of your guns, ammo, and magazines.) In your situation I would recommend stocking the following as minimum quantities for self defense and hunting:
4,000 rounds for your primary rifle (Recommend that you upgrade to .308)
3,000 for .22s
1,000 for shotgun (20% Buckshot, 5% slugs, and 75% in bird shot)
3,000 for your SIG P226 (or more, as you add guns to your battery)
500 rounds per secondary or non-standard caliber gun (such as your .357. .44-40s, and .25-20)
Lead, powder, and percussion caps for 500 rounds for the .44 Old Army. You should also buy a couple of spare cylinders that you can keep loaded, or better yet get a Kirst .45 Long Colt conversion kit.

I recommend that you add a .308 battle rifle to your battery, preferably a FN-FAL, L1A1, or AR-10. If you eventually decide to purchase some ammo for barter, the sky is the limit for quantity, particularly on Hawaii. Why? Because of the damp climate and high shipping costs, the majority of Hawaiian gun owners keep only a small stock of ammunition. WTSHTF if you have extra ammo available for barter, you will sitting pretty. Buy plenty of the most popular deer hunting caliber on the Big Island (I presume .30-30?), plus lots of. 22 LR, 12 gauge, 9mm, .40 S&W. .38, .357, and .45 ACP.Keep it all in sealed containers (such as military surplus ammo cans) with silica gel desiccant in each container

Get plenty of spare magazines for your guns. Calculate: 12 magazines per pistol and 10 magazines per rifle. Then, since you are at high risk of eventual magazine confiscation (they have already banned 11+ round pistol and SMG magazines in Hawaii), double that figure. Then grease up half of them with R.I.G. or cosmolene and cache them.

Aside for a small reserve left out for target practice or impromptu self defense, I recommend that you keep your ammo equally divided between three separate locations: A.) underground caches in plastic tubes, B.) in house (wall, lanai, and/or crawlspace) caches, and C.) in garage (wall) caches. This will minimize risk of burglary or confiscation. If any of your structure presently has any bare studs, you can seal (without a vacuum) the ammo (with a Tilia Food Saver or similar machine), with an enclosed small packet of silica gel. Then stack the ammo packages between studs, and put up 3/4″ plywood with power screws. Only a very determined burglar would be able to find that.