Dear Professor Prepper,
How much ammo is enough?
500 rounds. Well, actually 510 to be exact.
This is a good starting point, but instead of just trusting me and counting out 500+ shells, consider your situation. First of all, I will assume you are prepping to go mobile so the ammo will be in your BOB. In order to arrive at a exact BOB ammo number, I am also going to assume you have only two different types of cartridges to consider, the 9mm and the 5.56 (I’m giving you credit for reading my prior blog posts). I even know some preppers who have 9mm sidearms and 9mm carbines for a grand total of one type of cartridge to worry about. Bonus points for thinking, but a final grade of C+ when it comes to overall practicality.
If you are outfitting your home-as-your-bunker, then there is no ceiling to the number of rounds to keep on hand. I’d suggest an absolute minimum of a thousand rounds for every gun you deem important, with 10,000 rounds if a .22 or two is in your safe. But going mobile is a whole different story. And you MUST plan for going mobile.
There is an old photojournalist’s adage that you should never carry more gear than you can run with. The same is true here. If you cannot run due to health, age, etc. then insert climbing stairs, or getting in and out of the back of a pickup truck as a similar measure of required mobility while packing your BOB. The point is that your mobility is key to your survival. While a big pack might absorb more bullets, it will also give your adversary a larger and slower moving target to follow. But there is a useful caveat here. You can have BOBs within your BOB.
The simplest BOB is a sidearm in a holster, a knife, a flashlight, and a brain. The holster is on you belt, and the light and knife in your pockets. You can pile on the tools and survival bling after the basics, but stage the BOBs for effective deployment. Small survival essentials pouch should attach to a larger survival essentials pouch (not inside it in case you don’t have time to dig around). The larger pouch in turn can be a set of pouches inside your BOB backpack. Each pouch has some ammo, and of course, there is a dedicated ammo pouch for both the 9mm and the 5.56, and of course some will have both 9mm and 5.56,. The reason for the variability is you may need to leave your BOB and your rifle so don’t carry what you can’t use.
Also consider your profile. There may be times you want to be as small as possible. Dump your big BOB and strap on the necessary smaller BOBs. Did I mention that every BOB pouch must have its own way of hands-free carry. Belt loops are fine. Carabiners are great, but skip the grimlocs unless you really need the BOB to fall off under certain circumstances. I don’t. Grimlocs are worthless for hauling, climbing, and any rescue scenario. Use real equipment, not key rings.
Once you have each BOB pouch appropriately filled with its level of gear, sprinkle 9mm ammo into the pouch according to available space. These shells are not your primary goto ammo, but rather frosting on the bullet cake. What you don’t want is to have all your ammo in one place. Much of it, yes, but not all of it.
Of the suggested 510 rounds of ammo in your BOB, first calculate the percentages for the 9mm and 5.56. Some rules of thumb will help including your setting (confined city environment or open rural country side). You will always have your 9, but not always your rifle. What is your plan if you must use your sidearm? WIll you be far from your long gun (more than 10 minutes), or will it just be in another room? Is there a chance you will have to hunt game while mobile? What about sharing ammo with those who are in need?
Be realistic. Your neighborhood will remain as it is for a while so its not likely you will be totally homebound for long. And remember, most bad guys have cheap guns, little ammo, and no tactical experience. They won’t last long especially given the company they carry. Instead, it will be organized groups driven by political or religious agendas, or perhaps just basic needs. Everyone will be just as uncertain as you, and perhaps more scared. Marching around the neighborhood with your AR at the ready will only bring scorn and possibly wrath in the from of a pointy projectile. If you act like a threat, you will be dealt with as one. Don’t be stupid. Keep a low profile, and pretend to be just as vulnerable as everyone else. If you have a family, this is extremely important. You have to remain alive to function as a leader of your household. Braggers and posers are bullet magnets.
When you are driving you better not stop and pile out of your BOB rig like a deploying SWAT team. It might keep the immediate riffraff away, but certainly not the armed and desperate. Even today, armored cars are attacked. Unless you are part of a team of five or more operators, your overt GI Joe actions will only attract the wrong attention. Just look at the civil unrest across the world. What you see on TV is exactly what people in this country are capable of. Use the news footage as training videos. Consider what happens over there as pause for reflection of what could happen here. Imagine yourself in the middle of it. What would you do? But be cognizant of the difference between cultural oppression mixed with political gain compared to whatever caused the need for your prepping plans to move into their action phase.
A Glock 19 holds 15+1 rounds. Your AR should have 30 round mags. Pmags to be specific. Pmags with Ranger Plates to be more specific (remember the carabiners?). That means there are two Glock mag dumps per AR mag dump which give you reloading proportions. TEOTWAWKI is not the time to learn to aim. Each bang is one less of your total bangs. Just like a video game, your ammo meter will steadily drop until it hits zero. At that point you better have your running shoes on. So since you cannot take down the world, and this is no drill, your single objective is to live another day. That means get the hell away! Law enforcement did not vaporize, nor did the army, national guard, or criminals. Just plan on the good guys being tied up for a while with bigger problems.
With the above in mind, add one more equation to the mix: the number of rounds in relation to the size and weight of the gun. There is no point in carrying around your AR if you only have one full mag. Of course that’s a good start, but the overhead of weight size and obviousness of a long gun should demand that you can afford to feed it when its hungry. For that reason, must have easy access to your ammo supply, which better match the gun(s) you are carrying. That way you won’t have to carry what you don’t need.
So back to the equation. Start with 30% 9mm and 70% 5.56 and let your packing dictate the exact numbers. The proportions above roughly equal 150 rounds of 9mm and 360 rounds of 5.56. You should have five additional loaded 9mm mags at your disposal. That’s five times 15 rounds or 75 shots good to go. Another 75 lay in waiting. Your Glock can take up to 33 round mags, but that is the topic for a later blog.
A total of six 30 round 5.56 mags would give you 180 of your 360 shots. Eight total mags is a common practice for combat, but we are not in combat. We are trying to avoid combat. The remaining 180 rounds of your 360 would allow a total reload of all mags. As you can see, keeping things simple has its benefits.
If you read any of the prepper fantasies or survival romances, you will see a glorification of gunfire. But that is just to sell books. In reality, it would be best if the world recovered and civilization returned without a shot fired. I doubt that would happen, but prepping is not looking for a firefight. Effective prepping includes how to evade one!
There is no right or wrong here. Only degrees of hindsight. While some would argue to carry as much ammo as possible, I would argue that my nimbleness is more advantageous then the weight of their ammo pile. Some would argue for heavier firepower. I would argue in favor of my stealth and accuracy. Some would argue that their combat experience makes them superior. I would agree and try to be their friend.