Letter Re: How Much Ammo to Carry?

Hello Mr. Rawles,
You are a great man for what you do! You have shaped my life in many ways and most certainly opened my eyes to many things, and for that thank you. I have recently started my own small TEOTWAWKI preparedness group of like-minded Christians.

We have standardized our gear but I have no idea how much ammo we should carry on our web gear, and if we should have a combo of rifle and pistol ammo. We have a lot of ammo stockpiled but we are wondering about patrols and other times when we would need to be away from our retreat location.
Thank you for any help you can offer. – California Guy

JWR Replies: My general guidance for a retreat security “basic load” for truly inimical times is:

.308 semi-auto rifle: Four spare 20 round magazines.

AK-47, AK-74 or .223 semi-auto rifle: Six spare 30 round magazines

Pistol caliber SMG: Eight spare 30 or 32 round magazines .

M1 Garand:10 spare loaded 8-round clips.

.30 caliber bolt action rifle: 80 rounds. (Hopefully, you’ll have a rifle with either a detachable magazine or a stripper clip guide, for faster loading.)

SKS: 120 rounds on 10 round stripper clips. (12 full stripper clips.)

Riotgun: 50 buckshot shells, and 7 to 10 rifled slug shells (depending pouch configurations)

Handgun (supplementing a rifle or riotgun): four spare magazines for single stack magazine pistols, or three spare magazines for double stack guns.

Revolver (supplementing a rifle or riotgun): six spare speed loaders or full moon clips.

All of the above noted quantities might vary, depending on the situation. For example, if you are foraging for game you’d surely want to substitute some soft nose ammo, and birdshot. If you are on a preemptive offensive raid (God forbid), you’d probably want to carry much more ammo. Ditto for stocking an LP/OP or what you’d carry in a vehicle, where weight and space are not paramount concerns. If on a long range “avoid all contact” reconnaissance patrol or if you are inside your perimeter doing chores, you’d probably carry much less ammo.

I generally recommend carrying semi-auto rifle magazines loaded with tracers for the last three rounds in each magazine. (In the stress of defensive shooting situations you almost certainly won’t be counting rounds, so the flash of tracers will cue you to switch magazines.) Your state/local laws and wildfire conditions, of course might preclude this.

Again, varying circumstances might very likely necessitate some increases or decreases to what I’ve suggested. And, of course, your physical stature and fitness or mountainous terrain might also dictate some changes.

One closing note for readers in California and other hoplophobic states that have enacted magazine bans: You will likely have to make do with smaller magazines. Make the best of it until you can move to state with greater freedom. At least California’s “high capacity” magazine ban has a grandfather clause for any 11+ round magazines that you legally possessed on or before December 31, 1999. New York (state) also grandfathers any 11+ round magazines that were made before September of 1994, regardless of when you acquired them. Consult your state and local laws!