In the latest surge of buying that is emptying gun store inventory, the ammo is going out the door faster than the guns. 

A gun with no ammunition is like a working stove combined with an empty pantry: pretty much useless.

A few points on that:

  • If you know your pistol works with hollow points and have plenty of full metal jacket practice ammo but no self-defense rounds, trade fifty to a hundred rounds of the FMJ with someone you know for enough hollowpoints to load your gun with. Full metal jacket, usually round-nosed, zips through flesh like an icepick and can cause death later but hollow points are more likely to stop violent activity now. Those practice rounds in 9mm, .40, or .45 have enough penetration to punch completely through two people standing in a row and lodge in the body of a third: not what you want in the gun when you’re defending your household and a family member trying to help you might have, unseen, made their way behind the home invader you have to shoot.  One parameter of hollow point design is to stay in the body of the intended target.
  • Check with your neighbors and loved ones who might be arming up for the first time, or digging out a gun they rarely use in case things go downhill. Make sure they have enough of the right ammunition for it.  If you can spare it, it would be a good thing to share some of yours with them.
  • Some vendors still have ammunition available. As mentioned here recently, one of those is Super Vel, which has ammo in stock at this writing. They’re at If they have any all-copper hollow points in stock, that would be my own choice.
  • Atlanta Arms and Ammunition also had ammo in stock at this writing. Go to Atlanta Arms.

And if you have guns in house already but not enough ammo…well, you don’t need me to tell you that’s a mistake you shouldn’t be making again.

Finally, if you know someone buying a gun for the first time during the pandemic crisis, don’t forget to give them as much advice as circumstances allow on how to safely and competently store and use it. 


  1. Thanks, Mas! Your sage advice is always of value.

    My question to many of my acquaintances when these times arise is simple and snarky: “Why weren’t you hoarding last week before there was a crisis?”

    Seems crazy to the general population to keep an ample supply of food, water, fuel, ammo, OTC meds, etc when times are easy and then they all go crazy trying to buy these exact same commodities when times get tough. Supply & Demand is a true principle – Buy like a Bull when there is ample supply and the prices are low and the hunker down like a Bear when there is scarcity.

    Maybe the key sentence in yoour article: “And if you have guns in house already but not enough ammo…well, you don’t need me to tell you that’s a mistake you shouldn’t be making again.”

    Stay Safe, Happy Quarantine and May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor!

  2. I learned in the time of Dollar Bill Clinton to have a stock of tested guns and ammo. This latest run on guns and ammunition makes me laugh.

    Like the Mormons having a years supply of food, one is wise in times of plenty to keep a reserve just in case!

    “Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others.” ― Otto von Bismarck

  3. Agree about hollow point rounds. Push comes to shove run and use what you have, though it may not be ideally what you prefer it will work. Unfortunately I have limited factory ammo in hollow point. If need be reloads will come into play.

    • Don P,

      Forgive me if I misunderstood precisely what you wrote. During “normal” times you should never load a defensive gun with reloads. An anti-American prosecutor may accuse you of making your own extra-deadly vigilante loads. You only want to use factory loads for defense.

      Of course, if reloads are all you have, then that is what you load, especially in an emergency.

      • There has been for years the warning that using reloads for a self-protection firearm could result in a bad situation later for the court case. It doesn’t have to be that way unless you use some kind of exotic claw-projectiles with a hevy dose of hot powder.
        Reloads are often loaded lighter than factory rounds. Like the “cowboy” contests, the contestants try to get as close to the mildest loads they are allowed, simply for the purpose of lighter recoil for faster accuracy.
        In a self-defense situation, a reloaded .380 or 9mm could never pass the prosecutor’s claim of using a murderous recipe on your reloads: Your .45 1911 or .44 Magnum was also a choice for CC. If your attorney cannot explain that to the judge /jury then perhaps he needs more firearms training.

      • Ken, I have to respectfully but strongly disagree. Please refer to my reply to Jeff Neil, in this column of commentary, for my reasons why. The “regular bullets weren’t deadly enough to satisfy the defendant’s blood lust” argument is an issue, but certainly not the major issue with using handloads for self-defense.

  4. There are dry-fire training tools that work with an app on an iPhone in conjunction with a laser pointer “round”. Hits are captured in a pdf file that is an overlay of virtual hits superimposed on a picture of the target. I found the one I purchased gives great feedback in that the hits my initial virtual targets were an exact representation of those on previous “real” paper targets. My virtual targets have since improved as I have made adjustments to NPOA and trigger control. I expect my “real targets” will have improved as well. All this was done at home, indoors, without expending any precious ammo. And, best of all, without having to clean a firearm. Setup and takedown time is only a couple minutes. After 4 or 5 “virtual boxes” of ammunition, the unit paid for itself.

  5. Another thing to consider – many of the people buying guns are first time firearms owners. Help them start off on the right track by explaining gun safety and operation to them and giving them some basic defensive use training, even if no live fire is involved. Loan them your copies of a good book on self defense, such as those from Mas or Tom Givens.

    We want all gun owners to be safe so that the anti-gun folks don’t have any talking points. And tell your representative in Congress to tell Hank Johnson that his bloody outrageous gun ban bill, HR5717, is a non-starter and that Guam isn’t going to tip over!

  6. Mas:

    Thank you. As always, great advice. Way back in the day, Uncle Jeff told me to always buy double what you need, and save the extra for bad times ahead. He put forth a variation of this advice in his “Ballistic Wampum,” piece, later appearing in Fireworks, I think. In bad times, a box of cartridges can be traded up!

    Different topic. While nosing around on You Tube, I saw a video of a young lady shooting all sorts of historic firearms. If that is one of your daughters all grown up, I am sure you are very proud of her! She appears very competent with a wide variety of firearms. I would expect nothing less. So, was it Cat or Justine shooting all those guns?


    Shawn McCarver

    PS – Tim Mullin says hello!

    • Good to hear from you, Shawn, and please tell Tim “Hi” back.

      Nope, not my daughters. You may have come across such videos starring Tori Nonaka, a young wunderkind when she was winning national championships in her mid-teens. Gail and I met her at matches. Very nice, polite young lady, well-spoken and super-skilled.

      • Mas:

        Oops, I stand corrected. I was watching through Roku device on TV, and when I just looked it up again, I realized I had misread the title. I went to it thinking the title was “Mas Fires 97 Great Firearms.” The title is actually “Mae Fires 97 Great Firearms,” and the video is by “C&Rsenal.” When I saw the young lady, I obviously knew she didn’t look like you! Made the leap that maybe it was one of your daughters. I’m off to the eye doctor to get my spectacles changed!



    • Shawn McCarver,

      Going along with what Uncle Jeff said, if I can afford it, I like to buy two exact copies of whatever firearm I want to buy. It’s always good to have a backup. As special forces men say, “two are one and one is none.” And if things descend to “Mad Max” levels, one firearm can be cannibalized to provide spare parts for the other.

      • That is a great practice, IF you have the do re mi to do it. I don’t. But after I fell in love with the smaller military seni0auto pistol brought to us by John Moses, I began to see them at gun shows here and there. When they appeared to be sound examples of the High Power, and at a reasoble price which back then they were (never coud figure out why someone would spend MORE money for a shiney flashy plascit fantastic carry gun than for a good clean solid used BHP). I’d buy them at every opportunity. They simply were not respected. Don’t even know really how many I have, and they are different variants. In hand, though, they are all comletely interchangeable. Took me some looking to find a holster that works well, but the search resultes made the time worth it. Ended up with LOTS lf mags, too. A side benefit. And when it got cheaplI laid in quite a supplu of fodder for them. Of course, of the goon squads came across them they would be bragging on the “arsenal” they discovered, and how they had the priviledge of making society safer” by taking all those antiques “off the street”. Joke;d be on them, though, cause if they find one they might find another, and think the’ve got them all. But then there is this one here, and tahat one there, and a matched pair out there, and so on. They might find all of them in one area, but they’d never guess whether there are more and where they might be.

  7. Not for now, but in future, learn to reload. It is not hard to do. And a complete setup can be had for under $200. Add another $100 in supplies and you have probably 200-300 rds of 9mm using your own brass from previous ammo purchases. And it gets cheaper the more you reload.
    I know, reloads and a trial come into conflict. But if it’s a life decision …
    I have a good supply, I plan ahead, but one thing not often mentioned is IIIa body armor; my next purchase.

    • Just remember; for legal reasons in the event you have to defend yourself, DO NOT USE RELOADS/HANDLOADS. Only use those for target practice, and stick with commercial and unmodified ammo for self-defense. Slip & Fall lawyer types will call your motives for reloading/handloading into question…like did you make ammo that purposely contributed to the demise of the dead individual?

      • Good advice but given the fact that fired empty cases will be hard to prove they were handloaded unless you opened your mouth. I use xtp projectiles just like many factory rounds

      • Yes, I mentioned that pesky trial thing. But I am more pointing to SHTF, Bug-out, Just in case, type scenarios. When it’s all gone to ÷$%(</ and the LGS and online is non-existent.
        I agree, for self-defense, under normal conditions, factory ammo is important; and that is all I carry on the street.

  8. I can honestly say that ammo is not a problem for me. I have been stockpiling it since President Obama’s first term. I have long known that, either by means of a natural or man made disaster or by means of firearm-prohibition actions by the totalitarian Left, guns and ammo will become dear.

    At this point, I can’t even give a precise inventory of how much ammo I do have on-hand.

    I can say that I have 25 different caliber/gauges of ammo on-hand broken down into three (3) different gauges of shotgun shells, eleven (11) different calibers of handgun ammunition and eleven (11) different calibers of rifle ammunition. (Eleven is a Lucky Number! 🙂 )

    I did inventory just the .22 LR ammo to see how much of it that I have on-hand. Currently, I have 6,500 rounds of .22 LR. This, of course, is just a tiny fraction of the total ammo cache.

    Also, I have primers, powder, bullets, and die available to reload seventeen (17) kinds of rifle and handgun cartridges.

    So, as I noted above, neither guns nor ammo are problems for me. At my age (I turn 60 this year), I probably have enough of both to last me the rest of my natural life (assuming I can hold onto them). I would run out of Food and Drink long before I ran out of ammo!

    So, you will not find me standing in-line outside a gun store hoping to score a box of 9mm Luger hollow-points. 🙂

    • I have enough components to reload about 100 rounds of .450/400 NE ammo for my Ruger Number 1 rifle which should last me through these rough times and also in case a rouge pachyderm from a circus escapes and invades my property. As movie character Matthew Quigley said when he was down under, all he needed was his Sharps rifle in .45-110 which was used with great effect against many bad guys. As my Ruger is a single shot rifle, I have a backup weapon too, which is a Cold Steel blowgun with plenty of bamboo and steel darts. Plus, it needs no powder and is very quiet.

      • @ Tom606 – I also have a Ruger Number 1 rifle chambered in .450/400 NE (AKA .400 Jeffery) and I also reload for it. Hornady factory ammo costs about $5-$6 per round and it is the inexpensive stuff. The British Kynoch ammo typically goes for more than $15 per pop! So, the cost savings from reloading this round is considerable.

        The Hornady Reloading Manual (9th Edition) has data for this round using Hornady Brass and bullets. Using this data, Reloder 19 powder and the Hornady DGX 400 grain bullet, I worked up a full power load that will shoot 3 shot groups of around 1″ to 1.25″ at 100 yards from the bench.

        Clearly, this is not a rifle that one wants to shoot a lot from the bench. The recoil is considerable. However, I have shot it enough to know that this is a plenty accurate rifle/load combination.

        So, I am also set if that rogue pachyderm escapes from the circus and come rampaging into my neighborhood! 🙂

        Of course, if it is a lesser threat (say a rabid dog or a criminal human), then I have less powerful (but more rapid shooting) weapons to deal with that situation too.

      • The guy who runs did some testing of “bulletproof glass.” Stuff that a .308 only chipped, his .45-70-500 blew big holes through.

        Instead of “obsolete”, I prefer to think of the old big bores as “specialized anti-vehicle weapons.”

    • If you have more ammo than you can carry on your back, you probably are not too bad off. If you happen, though, to be beset by several aggressive Berserkers, one rule of thumb is to recall that in WWI, 150 rifle rounds were said to be expended on average per day, per shooter, in the trenches. You can probably stay awake and fairly alert for about 60 hours without the aid of drugs (beware of too much coffee, about 40 cups in a row can make you hallucinate!). So you can figure on using up at least 375 rounds of ammo before you are overrun. Semi-autos can consume a lot more. If you are lucky enough to already have an elephant gun, you might consider sailing to Africa and “living off the land.”

      • Strategic Steve,

        Thanks for the excellent advice. I just want to add that I think the traditional procedure when the ammo supply is exhausted is to fix a bayonet and go on a banzai charge.

        I would rather employ a bow or crossbow, but I don’t own one at this time. I have an M-7 bayonet which will fit either of my Mossberg 590s.

        So much fun to play the “what if?” game. Tom606 and TN_MAN are also ready if “Jurassic Park” turns out to be a prophetic movie. I wonder what a T-Rex tastes like, or a Brontasaurus burger. Fred Flintstone knows.

      • @ Roger Willco – “I wonder what a T-Rex tastes like?”

        Everyone ought to know that a T-Rex, properly prepared and cooked with the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices, tastes just like chicken. After all, birds evolved from the Theropod Dinosaurs. 🙂

  9. FYI, in California it is actually illegal to give someone else your ammo. Pretty tough law to enforce unless the recipient does something stupid with your hollow points and tells the cops “my friend Joe gave them to me”.

  10. Your timing is great!! Just got off the phone with a relative that has a handgun for the first time. He does know how to handle his deer hunting rifle but a handgun is new to him. Hubby and I will be working with him and I sent him the web site
    When people break wine bottles in the store and stab someone over toilet paper things are getting crazy!
    There are a lot of substitutes for TP, as long as you don’t flush it down the toilet……..paper towel, Kleenex, napkins, coffee filters, white
    tissue paper used in gift bags, computer paper, AND who could forget catalogs!!

  11. I guess the Bloomberg, leaflets and the Tax code would at least let us $hit on them……….that could be strangely satisfying.

  12. Another complication with this latest crisis…all of the gun ranges in the area are closed. Unless you have private property available-no where to practice with that new pea-shooter you just bought.

    Also, anyone else’s hair standing up a bit when our good ok’ local, state and national politicians start talking about doing “anything in their power?” My wife’s spicy sense is tingling more than mine.

    • Here is an idea for people wanting to practice. Even for new shooters.

      If you are new to shooting and have just bought a new semi-auto pistol, look around and see if someone makes an airgun similar to your model pistol. There are a large number of CO2 airguns (available) that mimic real handguns in looks and handling. Pellet traps, targets, pellets, CO2 cartridges, etc. are also readily available.

      Unlike in the UK, airguns are still largely unregulated here in America and you can still order what you need, online, and have it delivered directly too you. Online retailers, like Pyramyd-Air, are a great place to find the items you need.

      One can build a nice little airgun target range in the basement or backyard and then practice with the airgun to your heart’s content. I have one set up and used it just the other day for some practice. I can fire about 100 shots per CO2 cartridge from my air-pistol.

      It is a great way to practice shooting without breaking your “Self-Isolation” or breaking the bank by burning more expensive real ammo! 🙂

      Now that these new gun-owners have a handgun, I recommend that they find a matching pellet pistol and buy it as well. These airguns can be invaluable training tools. Their lack of recoil makes them great even for “First-Timers”.

  13. I have wonderfully found that all the work setting up hurricane prep and maintaining the perishables database has paid off. Central Florida. Be safe; be well.

  14. At almost 44 years of age, I just bought my first handgun. They still had tons of ammo for it. As hard as it seems right now, I’ve also started to prep for the first time. Advice always welcome!

    • Let us know what you need help with, Joel, and lots of us here will be happy to help. Welcome to the club.

    • Joel,

      I bought my first gun, an Ishapore 2A1 bolt-action rifle, when I was 37.

      I hope you are surrounded by trustworthy people. Ask around and find a prepper. Also, go on There are many prepping videos on there. You will learn from the best, most talented people you have ever met. I could name a bunch but just search for “preppers.” Also, you have already found “”

      Prepping is fascinating and brings you peace of mind. Start by buying a few extra items each time you grocery shop.

      • Thanks Roger! Dad, a former Naval Aviator who seems to always be prepared for anything, though 800 miles away, is in my corner. I’m so thankful for YouTube!!

  15. This was a timely message. My LGS (single owner business) had run out of 9mm, .380, 5.56/.223 ammo and 9mm handguns and asked if I could spare some for resale/consignment. I want to keep this guy in business so I went through my stash and parted with some of each but kept what I thought was plenty for me. After reading your post, I got to thinking I may have sold too many .380 rounds and went to your suppliers and bought some last night. A little higher price than what I wanted but now I’m feeling much better.

    Sometimes sacrificing now will reap rewards latter, like my dealer staying afloat now that the city has shut him down as “non-essential”.

  16. Footnote to my previous posting. Atlanta Arms is out of .380 and just cancelled my order. I guess I waiting too long to pull the trigger (pun intended)

  17. Decades ago I bought my boys Daisy 717 airguns. Several years ago, I rebuilt them with kits (was horrified at what the price of new ones had grown to). Regardless of similarity to your handgun, it still teaches trigger control, slight alignment/picture and follow through. Given the slow muzzle velocities, follow through is much more important with airguns.

    Not all gun ranges are closed-at least in Virginia. No organized activities/matches, but solitary practice is no issue at many. Given the OSHA ventilation requirements at indoor ranges, I can see why those might be closed.

  18. The scales keep falling off people’s eyes… There are more road to Damascus transformations everyday. The moderate lefty is freaking out on the woke lefty… More women are understanding the government is not their protector. We do keep coming back to the writing of “Pope” Cooper, and how we Need to keep stocking up on not just ammo, but defensive ammo. I’m not making fun of people, because the good stuff is stupid expensive in tiny boxes… Bills keep going up, but only lately have wages moved up too. We are witnessing a tremendous play on our civil liberties, and it is just a dry run…

  19. My experience with Super Vel’s ammo has been excellent. Their .38 Special load is, unlike a lot of defensive ammo, actually affordable enough to practice with. I carry it in my 642. Not too bad out of a lever-action carbine either.

    Can someone explain the advantages of a solid copper hollow point, if anyone doesn’t mind?

    • Good expansion combined with good tactical penetration; overall lighter bullet weight results in less felt recoil, it seems.

    • A solid copper bullet holds together better than a jacketed lead core projectile which depending on the manufacturer and what it hits, may separate and reduce penetration. Speer’s Gold Dot bullets are bonded and tend to stay together. I’ve read that the best loads for the .38 Special, especially the shorter barreled revolvers, are the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot +P and the Federal 135 grain HST +P which looks like a hollow based wadcutter loaded backwards and flush with the case. I have shot both of these into jugs of water, which doesn’t prove anything, but they exhibit excellent expansion and do not fragment. Besides, I only carry a .38 Special in an ankle holster for a backup piece and would never consider it for a primary weapon. Fortunately, I bought several boxes of each of these in January of this year, so am well stocked for .38 Special carry ammo.

      • I haven’t tried Gold Dots, but I have tried Federal’s new HST in .38 Special. Works fine, although it seems to have rather shallow penetration for its weight. I prefer lighter bullets in .38 like the 110gr Winchester Silvertips or Super Vel’s 90gr load myself; particularly out of my 642.

        My 642 is my primary carry gun, so I’m always looking to try new loads. Thanks for the responses, gentlemen. Steinel Ammunition makes a SCHP in .38, so perhaps I’ll look into trying that while it’s still in stock.

      • @ Axel – “My 642 is my primary carry gun, so I’m always looking to try new loads.”

        I also like to use a S&W 642 as a routine carry gun. I may switch to a more powerful semi-automatic if I am traveling and away from home but I really like the 642 for casual carry close to home.

        I tried the Federal .38 special HST but I have concerns about it. It is as blunt as a wadcutter load and, for that reason, would be slow to reload. Reloading is a concern with a 5-shot snubbie.

        My current carry load is the Blackhill’s 100 grain Honeybadger load. This load does not depend upon expansion to work, has good barrier penetration (including heavy clothing) and is fairly fast to reload. It also gives good velocity even from a short barrel.

        This is a .38 Special +P load but the recoil is not too bad given the light bullet weight. Accuracy is good enough for short range self-defense. Here is a link to this ammo.

        This ammo is factory rated for 1275 fps but I suspect that this is measured from a 4 or 6 inch barrel. You won’t get this velocity from a stubnose revolver.

        I checked this load out of my 642 with my chronograph. Average velocity at 12 feet from the muzzle was 1030 fps which gives energy of about 235 ft-lbs. Not bad given that the barrel is only 1 7/8 inches in length!

      • I often carry a short-barreled, compact .357 revolver. Having a cylinder to turn selectively is one great advantage of a revolver over a semi-auto. I usually maintain three .38 Special +p hollow-points in primary position for a quick “failure drill” on a worthy assailant. I thereafter rely on one 158-grain jacketed soft-point in .357 mainly for the potential need of a frontal coup de grace on a troubled equine, followed by a heavy-load 180-grain hard-cast for a shot on a wild animal with an extra-thick skull. I sometimes carry a second handgun, which may be a semi-auto .25 ACP mouse-gun pistol, a compact 9mm Parabellum semi-auto, or a .45 Colt hand-cannon revolver with heavy-load Corbons or 335-grain hard-cast. The second guns are either for backup or for special purposes. I prefer the .45 Colt for snake shot.

      • @TN_MAN
        Hey, thanks for the info. You’re right about the Federal HST; it is very slow to reload due to its shape, particularly if you use speed loaders. I quit using it primarily for that reason.

        I’ll check out the HoneyBadger, assuming I can find any in this environment.

  20. I have kept ammo stocks since the Carter administration. My first priority was defensive ammo. I bought good stuff but modern stuff is much better so it has been replaced. During all that time, I have never used a single round for its appointed purpose though I have dumped older stuff in the practice pile. What I have used vast quantities of is practice ammo for training so most of my stock now is that so I don’t have to quit training during a shortage. And if things REALLY go to hell, you want rifle ammo.

  21. Hey, Guys, just wanted to acknowledge Super Vel for their great service. I ordered some of their 9mm +P 115 gr. JHPs on Monday or Tuesday of last week. I received my order on Friday. Fair price (not jacked up to take advantage of the situation!) and very fast delivery. They didn’t have any of the 115 gr. SCHPs in stock, but I think the JHPs will more than do the job in my Beretta M9. Thanks, Super Vel!

  22. Hi All,

    We know, but many don’t. One needs to make sure that their
    auto pistol will FEED and function with their chosen defense ammunition.
    I have an M&P Compact in 40 S&W that hates factory Hornady 180gr. XTP rounds…

    Mas, I first read In The Gravest Extreme ~ 25 years ago! Am reading Combat Hand Gunnery
    5th. edition. To bad Ruger dropped their P-XX series.

  23. I load all my ammo except what I carry. With thousands of rd.nose blue bullets in 9mm and hard cast 200grn .45acp on hand here’s my question. What about drilling out the nose of those bullets to encourage expansion and/or breaking up and hotting up the charge a bit to top of recommended loading’s. Do I end up with an effective, short range, say 15 to 30 feet, load that will do the job in terms of hit potential, and fight stopping ability without over penetration?

    • Can’t tell without extensive testing whether a home-made hollow point will open or not. Handloads aren’t a great idea for personal defense, because a lot of self-defense shootings occur close enough to be leaving gunshot residue on the body or clothing of the attacker. If the distance is disputed (i.e., “My client wasn’t close enough to Mr. Neil to be a danger to him”), crime lab gunshot residue testing will confirm your true account of the distance. When that’s disputed, lab testing of GSR (gunshot residue) to determine distance ends the BS argument conclusively. But when it is disputed between the parties, handload “exemplars” probably won’t be accepted by the Court, because the other side can successfully argue, “You can’t allow that in, Your Honor: the defendant LITERALLY MANUFACTURED THE EVIDENCE!”

      This sort of thing comes up often enough that I STRONGLY recommend against handloads for self-defense.

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