September 2019
things change quickly.

One reason I tell folks to stock up on ammo is the history of ammunition droughts – and accompanying steep increases in prices – in just the last 20 years.

2000: Remember Y2K?  The experts were telling us that we were going to be sent back to the Stone Age because the computers were going to die when the clocked ticked into the first minute of the Year Two Thousand.  Ammo – and bottled water – became scarce.

2008: The election of Barack Obama. I remember $20 bricks of .22 Long Rifle ammo selling for $100 bucks, and scalpers waiting in line in the early morning hours at WalMart (which at least didn’t jack up the price) hoping for an ammo delivery.

2012: The re-election of President Obama, and the run on guns triggered by screams for gun confiscation after the Sandy Hook atrocity.

2016: The impending election of Hillary Clinton, who had promised to be the strictest “gun control” President evah! (The day after she lost, I understood how the British must have felt when they received word that the storm had sunk the oncoming Spanish Armada.)

And now, 2020: First, a pandemic in which the media warned us that the cops would be out sick and we’d be on our own. Then, the George Floyd riots in which some parts of some cities WERE on their own because the cops were so busy.

I’ve had to provide home and personal defense ammunition to friends because they didn’t have enough and fortunately, I was able to help. 

Though I was sad that the pandemic shut down many training courses I wanted to take myself, and many matches I wanted to compete in, the one silver lining in that dark cloud was that I saved thousands of rounds of ammo that I wouldn’t have been able to readily replace under current circumstances.

Last September when WalMart buckled to political correctness and stopped stocking handgun ammo (and .223 and similar rifle rounds), I got the word late and only caught some of the dregs of their then-current, deeply discounted stock.  Wish I’d gotten that notification sooner than I did.

I don’t expect ammunition to return to 2019 pricing and availability any time soon. But when it does become available, I’ll stock up even more than in the past.

It’s part of the whole self-reliance concept: “When you can get it cheap, stack it deep.” It applies to ammo as much as it does to toilet paper.

The more you have stockpiled, the better.


  1. Yep… I have a friend that just started to want to reload ammo. I gave him TWO PRESSES (Lee Turret Press and an “O” press) last year. He didn’t even set them up till…. NOW! And now he finds he can’t find powder, primers, slugs… on the net, not to mention live ammo.

    Of course I have plenty… I learned the lesson when Dollar Bill Clinton was in office plus for many years I was an IPSC and IDPA player and I still have my stuff!

    Most just don’t learn… till it bites them in a private place.

  2. I have over 22 thousand 22 long rifle rounds. I bought a brick every payday for a long time. I also have over a thousand rounds of 9mm. On top of that I reload and have plenty of supplies for that. I am older and learned a long time ago to have supplies for the rainy day. If need be some of my supplies can be used as commodities in the extreme case shtf.

  3. I see gun prices are sky high on Gunbroker and not even available on a lot of gun websites. I’ve heard that after the election that gun and ammo prices will level out. I’m skeptical of that because I just don’t see AKs or quality ARs dropping in price indefinitely. For example, i don’t see an Arsenal 107 that sells for $1200 ever dropping from that price at gun shops.. Thoughts?

    • Depends on which way the election goes.
      If Trump wins re-election, I expect violence to escalate, driving gun and ammo prices higher.
      If Biden wins, I expect guns and ammo will become priceless.

  4. Another excellent piece of advice, Mas, backed up with facts drawn from recent history. I’ve made bad career decisions because I wanted a great job, not just a good job. Still, even on a low budget I am pretty happy with my preparations. If all goes according to plan, I should be able to rejoin the middle class when I get a decent job in 2021. Then I will be able to buy even more supplies, if they are available.

    The morning after the 2016 election, I felt the same way you did. I felt I had been delivered from a very dark place, like the Brits did after that storm ruined much of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

    I live among middle class and upper middle class people. I still hear the people around me complain about the smallest trifles. Don’t they realize things can get much worse than they are now? Don’t they realize they may become dumpster divers?

    I guess we still live in a bubble here, and it is beautiful. But I’m prepared to live like Mad Max if I have to. I even have a Mutual Assistance Group. Hallelujah!

    Paul is right, “Most just don’t learn . . .”

    • Unless storage conditions are very bad, ammunition remains in good condition for decades. Early in World War Two, US troops used ammunition left over from World War One. My reloads worked fine after thirty years in my basement.

      • I still have a couple boxes of WWII .45 acp “dirty” ammo my Dad gave me, probably never shoot it.

      • “Corrosive” ammo with chlorate primers, like Soviet or Chinese milsurp, will last forever, as far as anyone knows. It’s also virtually insensitive to cold or heat. It would be the perfect priming compound if it wasn’t for the “corrosive” part.

        Non-corrosive lead styphnate primers vary; the early simple compounds from the 1930s still shoot fine, but some of the later compounds have additives to reduce flash, improve cold-weather ignition, etc., and they’ll lose some zip as they age, though they’ll still work. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell what the compound in a particular pack of primers might be, but they’ll still work, though accuracy might not be the best.

        In the early ’90s several types of “green” or “lead-free” primers came onto the market; some of them had a shelf life of two or three years before they went inert. The lead-free primers have come and gone several times since then. Some of them use nonstandard primer cup sizes, others have temperature sensitivity, and I don’t trust any of them over the long term no matter what the manufacturers claim.

        From the early 19-oughts to the 1950s there were some “match” primers, both chlorate and styphnate, that used a mercuric additive. There was also some military ammo made with that kind of primer. But the mercuric primers age out with time, and some of them will eventually go inert.

        I’m down to the last few rounds of German-made 7.65×53; the box is dated 1894. Still worked perfectly, last time I fired some.

    • I just shot about 400 rounds of 22lr that I stockpiled for y2k. No problems though it was premium stuff. By repute, centerfire stuff lasts even longer.

    • Stocked ammo has a long shelf life. I have used ammo that was over 30 years old that worked just fine and still have some of that ammo to be used, yet. The “ideal” conditions for stocked ammo is in a climate controlled environment – what you would be comfortable living in (A/C and heating). Even so, ammo will still last a long time stacked in a garage in the heat of a Texas summer. I have never had to deal with extreme cold of the Northern states or Canada. I’m sure that some folks are still shooting military surplus ammo from WW2, the 1950’s and the 1960’s. I would also be interested to here others’ comments.

      • I have shot properly stored ammo which is 40+ years old without any problems. Back in the 1980’s I bought three 1000 round cases of Brazilian .308 ammo headstamped CBC 80. I’m still shooting it and every round has gone bang when the trigger is pulled. I store all my ammo inside my climate controlled house away from windows and when possible, in .50 caliber steel ammo cans. I have reloads over 30 years old which still functions perfectly. However, unless you know exactly how the ammo was stored after the first few years of it’s life, don’t rely on it for serious purposes. I once bought 10 fifty round boxes of Winchester .45 ACP ammo for $0.05 per round. The boxes looked to be from the 1950’s or early 1960’s and were in great condition. However, half the rounds misfired so I pulled the bullets, trashed the primers and used the powder to fertilize my grass, then reloaded them reusing the .230 grain FMJ bullets. Even so, for five cents each, the bullets and cases were a great deal, not to mention the very nice collectible boxes they came in. Buy the freshest ammo available and store them properly, and rotate your stock when new ammunition is purchased.

    • I have handgun reloads from the early 1980s which functioned perfectly when I got back to shooting a couple years ago. Dry climate but temps from minus double digits to well over 100degF in storage. Open boxes of CCI primers from that time worked fine. Open cans of powder from that time were significantly affected, but usable for practice — had to work up new loads titrated to function & pressure signs for burning the powder up on targets. Haven’t opened sealed cans of powder of the same vintage, nor tested long gun & shotgun ammo/components.

  5. You don’t have to buy a pallet of ammo at a time but a couple of boxes every time you go into a gun shop or sporting goods store makes a whole lot of sense. Waiting till SHTF is just a bad bad plan.

  6. Hard to find reloading components. I can only find powder-coated and plain lead alloy bullets online. And I learned now, don’t count too much on casting your own from wheel weights so much anymore. So many states have outlawed the use of lead, and the trend is just away from them. I just sorted through a 120-pound, 5-gallon bucket full I got from my favorite tire shop, and… 70 lb was steel; 40 lb was zinc; 3 lb was garbage (stems, cracked lug nuts, etc.). Just 7 lb or so of lead. (But… I’ll take it!).

    • Have been reloading for over 40 yrs,just for my handguns I have. Just recently {Aug 2020} have getting hardcast pistol bullets from either Bayou Bullets in LA,or also from Eggleston bullets out of California. Have plenty of brass,powder,and mettalic shells. Just have to have patience and keep searching the internet. Local gun show here,lady sell 1000 small pistol primers for about $31.00,and her prices stable for quite a few years. I use cci,winchester,or federal primers,and have reliability with all brands I have used. Love all of Mas’s articles,are on the money and informative.

      • This will shock and amaze you.

        Gunbroker auction for 2000 (2 boxes) of small pistol primers, worth maybe $65 at preCOVID prices …. sold for $340.00!!!
        $0.17 each!!
        “Normal” prices are like $0.033 each

        I’ve still got CCI small pistol primers from the 80’s marked (with a price sticker … remember those?) at $19.99/ box of 1000

  7. Food, propane (for our emergency generator), and ammo are at or near the top of my SHTF list. Everyone should have a list and keep it current, or you’ll be dependent on someone else who may or may not be able to help.
    IMO SHTF times started early this year and other SHTF events will be coming as time passes. Depending on who wins in November, ammo may be even more difficult to buy because of restrictions on shipping.

  8. Glad I maintained my stock of 40 S&W, besides hard to find even when the good times were here (if thats even possible). Now nada anywhere. No range has also helped conserve my 6K stock pile.

  9. Even reloading supplies have gotten scarce lately. Lead cast bullets are still readily available but stuff like some kinds of powder is getting harder and harder to find. The guy I typically buy from told me that the government placed a large order for powder with the powder companies. I do not know the accuracy of that but if it were true what do they know that we don’t.

    I am not one for stockpiling to stockpile but I make an exception when it comes to ammo and reloading supplies.

  10. How long should ammo last? I recently cycled through the defense ammo I had been carrying in my 1911 (HydraShok 230 grain) for approximately 5 years and was dismayed to have not one, but TWO of the 25 rounds (gun plus two spare magazines) fail to fire. Nice, deep indentations on the primers, but no go.

    In the future I will cycle through my defense ammo at least annually. Still, I’ve got .22 LR ammo that my Grandfather bought (he passed away in 1974) that still works even though it’s been stored in a non-humidity controlled basement probably for more than 70 years. With a failure rate approaching 10% I’m not impressed with Federal Ammo at the moment.

  11. I spent an hour on line seeking some 223 last weekend. At Mas’ suggestion I realized I had very little expanding projectile all. Green tips may look good on the battle field but prolly not in my living room if things go wrong. On the street, even worse. Im sure they won’t be popular in court as well.
    I finally found some expanding ammo, but stocks of every bullet weight and type are painfully low. Glad I have my other bases and calibers pretty well stocked. Any time I find ammo at decent prices I buy. I have some for every caliber I own. This is only going to get worse. If you can find it, buy it. Then you don’t have to freak out and hoard when times get tight. Stay safe!

  12. I always get a kick out of the news articles about the guy who has an arsenal in his house. 4 guns and 1,500 rounds of ammo… I can only guess what they would say about people I (may) know with 100 guns and 20,000 rounds stashed.
    Owning a gun shop in Bisbee, AZ, I feel my customer’s pain.

  13. Luckily my wife and I have a pretty good stock of ammo at this point. I really don’t want to go to the range as the 9mm is not readily available. We live 5 miles from Minneapolis and just need to stay vigilant. I hope we all remember the scalpers when this is over and never give them a nickels worth if business. When you have “Cheaper” as the first word in your company name and charge $50 plus shipping for a box of ammo then you stink.

    • That bunch has not been ” Cheaper” than anyone for a long time. They were my go to supplier for quite some time, buying ammo, ear protection, cleaning supplies, etc. from them. But they got to where they were no longer close on so many things, that I started to search around, and found much better deals elsewhere.
      I have bought guns online from dealers for a very long time, and I always have gone with the cheapest deal, also adding in shipping. My local gun store had to increase their charge from 20-25$ this year. I apologized to them for not buying from them, but the price difference was just too much. But I also bring them things that I don’t need, like a Safariland shoulder holster for Single Actions with longer barrels, or a few magazine holsters that I have bought for just a couple dollars, at second hand shops, or such. I had one that was very nice, it looked like a police officers ammo holster, 2 mags, shiny black leather. They always are appreciative of the little gifts that they can either sell,or give to a friend or use themselves.
      I appreciate just how hard it is, especially now, for gun stores to make money, unless they are a large business, with a huge inventory.

  14. I truly hope we have that same “saved by the storm” feels BH come 4 November!

    I’ve been buying ammo for years including cases of M2 ball, .30 carbine and .45 auto from CMP when they had it at Camp Perry. Early this year I mistakenly ordered a bunch of 9mm (thought I was ordering 250 rd boxes, turns out they were 1000 rd cases!). Best mistake I ever made!

  15. Somehow, I allowed my component inventories to become unbalanced. My most scarce reloading component is primers which seem to be the least obtainable of all at the moment. When will I learn to buy when the buyin’s good?

  16. The British were not the only folks saved by storms. In 1274 and later 1281, the Japanese were saved from seaborne invasions by the Mongols when two typhoons struck the Mongol fleets and drowned thousands of troops. The first invasion comprised 500 to 900 ships carrying 30,000 to 40,000 Mongol troops. The second attempted invasion was much larger, 4,000 vessels transporting about 140,000 soldiers. Two typhoons called Kamikaze by the Japanese destroyed both Mongol fleets and saved the Land of Nippon.

    Here in present day American, a potential disaster was averted when Hillary was trumped by The Donald in 2016. Hopefully, like the Japanese Kamikazes, an even bigger victory for the second time in 2020 will keep Donald Trump in the White House and crush the diabolical Democrats aka Communists, at least for a few more years. Let us hope that God is still on our side and help us defeat the liberal forces of evil in November 2020.

    Depending on the outcome of the presidential election, ammo may become more available next year, or ammunition for sale to citizens will be banned by the incoming regime.

  17. Having grown up with firearms, when I got married and moved to a urban part of California I lost interest and left my guns at my folks’ place in Kansas. When I decided to get back into shooting i found out my mom had sold all of the guns when my dad got dementia, including one’s I was to inherit and ones I had been given as a kid.

    My wife agreed it was a good idea to be armed, so two years ago I bought $5000 worth of firearms, and about $3500 on an ammunition supply. I though it was kind of expensive, but in hindsight all of the purchases seem like a bargain! Your essay backs that feeling up 100%.

  18. I do not believe we could have a better man than our President in charge of this country.
    The good guy doesn’t always win.
    I have a good supply but if the other team wins that could be the end of the game, ammunition manufacturers produce for military and law enforcement only.
    Until recently I was burning through 50rds per week.
    No more until after the general election.

    • Lew,

      Trump is “Atlas Shrugged,” except he hasn’t shrugged yet. He is carrying this country on his shoulders. The odd thing is he could be actually saving the lives of America’s domestic enemies, because if Hillary had won, our cold civil war might have turned hot by now. Who knows for sure?

  19. There are still some decent deals out there if one is patient. OTOH, I sold some ammo (mostly ball) that I had stocked up on decades ago – for much more than I paid for it – then I turned around and used those $ to buy better ammo (self-defense expanding ammo). I sold some collectable ammo (original Black Talon) for 150% of what I paid for it, and used that to buy more self-defense ammo. This weekend I will buy some practice ball ammo in a caliber that I was lacking that type of ammo in. But you have to be patient and not panic buy.

  20. When you understand the shear volume that is being bought right now, it is mind blowing. Yet, we have places in America that want to be Next the Stalingrad… The amount ammunition that would be gone through, is inconceivable!

  21. Being an apartment dweller I can’t really store all that much ammo safely. So I’m somewhat at the mercy of the people who feel the need to have 100,000 rounds on hand. It would sure be nice to be able to pick up a couple boxes for practice every once in a while.

  22. The writing on the wall was apparent by March, and everyone should have been stocked to some degree by January regardless. Anyone buying now is a fool.

    • Assuming people buying now are fools is foolish.
      My barber just bought his first handgun less than a month ago.
      My grandson, married and a baby on the way, perpetually low on cash, shops for ammunition when he can find the money.
      I traded my barber a box, 50rds, for 3 haircuts. I bought 2 boxes for my grandson.

  23. I asked a local reloading supply store if they had bullets in stock, yes.
    How much ? “Bag of 50, $24”
    Yes, they’re pirates but it’s their chalk and their blackboard.
    To repeat, I won’t be going to the range again until things level out.
    If all you have is 50 rounds of .22 be thankful and conserve.

  24. Many folks may not realize it, but a well made semi-auto .22 rifle is one of the best guns to have in a survival situation. Beside the obvious use in hunting small game, several fast and accurate shots with high velocity hollow point ammo should stop an attacker at close range. One can carry a lot of ammunition, especially important if bugging out and weight is a factor. My favorite of the half dozen rimfire rifles I own is a Ruger 10/22 with Leupold 1.5X-4x scope which has a lighted reticle and threaded muzzle in a synthetic stock. I have a Yankee Hill can on it which besides making it fairly quiet, also eliminates muzzle flash which is very important in a survival and tactical situation. I have a half dozen 10 round Ruger magazines with both black and clear housings, and three Butler Creek 25 round mags with steel feed lips which are very reliable.

    Rimfire .22 ammo is currently more available than 9X19mm, .223/5.56mm, 45 ACP, etc. in my area and probably around the country, and though more costly than six months ago, is still decently priced so buy as much as possible if you have a rimfire gun. Besides, if things go really bad and you need a serious handgun or rifle, just find a bad guy/gal with one and take them out quietly with your suppressed (hopefully) firearm and pry it from their warm dead fingers.

  25. Regarding Y2K: no experts said that that it was sure to be a calamity. That was idiots in the media. What the experts said was that there could be a *lot* of computer programs in service that would fail due to the year rollover. This could include programs that run physical machinery of various kinds.

    Nobody really knew how bad this problem could be. One should realize that all this computer stuff is a new thing. We had never experienced a year rollover.

    And there was a huge amount of old, poorly documented programs in service. Many machines with computerized controls were running on programs that had been installed and forgotten about years before. And of course, as we see every day, computer systems break a lot. Mostly we just absorb each bump and keep going. But what if a *lot* of stuff all broke at the same time?

    Nearly all large corporation and agencies did what they should have done years before – make a thorough critical evaluation of their computer systems to insure that the working programs were current versions, that they (or the supplier) had the source code, and that there were no Y2K bugs lurking. A lot of effort, a lot of expense – but a lot of problems were revealed and fixed.

    And a Y2K bug really was possible. I know this because *I* caused one that shut down a multi-million dollar business for several days.

  26. Just a couple comments on .22 rimfire. I had some Remington Thunderbolt for a long time and the bullets accumulated enough crud to make operation of semi’s rather chancy. I gave them to the kids to run through bolt guns and they had no issues.

    I’ve also got some 5 year old Auto Match that’s functioned and fired, but I’ve noticed some that didn’t have the same report and didn’t eject as far as the rest. Accuracy at 25 yards or so was fine.

    As someone noted above, the premium lines seem to do better. The Remington Golden Bullets worked fine even after 20 odd years.

    Back during the Obama primer shortage I finally burned up the last of some primers I bought in the Carter years.

  27. Regarding reloading, the obvious thing is to buy between shortages. The less obvious thing is to consider standardizing on components for flexibility.

    For flexibility, instead of buying powders just right for one thing, think about sticking with powders that have many uses. For example, Unique that may not be amazing at anything, but amazingly can do almost everything from .380 ACP to .44 Magnum, and even shotgun shells and some reduced power cast rifle loads. If you shoot a variety of cartridges, Unique and H4895, for example, will do just about everything.

    That might be better than stocking up on specialty one-hit-wonder powders for each cartridge one loads, just because some magazine said it had 10 more FPS than some other powder, etc. Having only a few powders means you can load whatever you are short of.

    • @ Jacob Morgan – “If you shoot a variety of cartridges, Unique and H4895, for example, will do just about everything.”

      I totally agree. If I was “reduced” to using just two types of reloading powder, then Unique and H4895 would be my choices too. I have both powders on-hand.

      I started to stockpile ammo back in 2008 when Obama was first elected POTUS. That was also when I first signed up for a handgun carry permit.

      The election of Obama was the “watershed event” that opened my eyes as to the direction that this country was trending. Prior to 2008, I only had a small number of firearms on-hand and very little ammo. Since then, I have GREATLY expanded the number of firearms, amount of factory ammo and amount of reloading components and dies on-hand. At this point, I am well-stocked on everything. So, this latest “shortage” just makes me “shake my head” and “smile” because I am “good to go”. 🙂

      I mostly shoot ammo that I have reloaded for practice nowadays. I am reserving my stockpile of factory ammo for carry and in case of civil disturbances. The exception is rimfire ammo, of course. Got to shoot factory ammo there. I have a good stock-pile of rimfire ammo (both 22 LR and 22 Mag) too.

      Frankly, even if the Marxists come to power and institute a complete ban on new firearm and ammo sales to the public, I should have enough guns and ammo to last me for the rest of my natural life. That is assuming that the Leftist SS does not raid my home with their storm-troopers. In that event, it will be “Lexington and Concord” all over again!

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