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Ammunition Shortage Coping Strategy 2020+ Edition

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    Ammunition Shortage Coping Strategy 2020+ Edition

    As some of you probably already know, ammunition surpluses have dried up again and everything is out of stock or subject to obscene prices increases from just a few weeks ago. Demand got so high that my favored site, SGAmmo literally shut off any new orders until they can clear the backlog. This happens periodically. The most recent time in memory was 2012. Supplies didn't recover until 2015-2016, and production overruns from increased supply led to a massive glut and an era of historical lows circa early 2017-early 2020. While the whole Global Pandemic thing didn't help, demand was already on a sharp uptick due to the 2020 election. Production has also tapered off because of the 3+ year glut, so prices are likely to stay high for at least a couple years while production ramps back up. If it does.

    Did you learn your lesson in 2012? If so, what did you stock up on during the glut? If not, or if you weren't into recreational or competitive shooting until recently, what are you going to do about it during the next glut era?

    From 2012-2015 I was basically unable to go to the range, as I only ever kept at most 1000 rounds of 9mm at a time, and maybe 500 rounds of .22lr. I didn't own an AR or any other intermediate cartridge rifle in 2012, and didn't purchase my first stripped lowers until 2013. That was in response to the impending Maryland Assault Weapons Ban. I was not prepared for that either, and have spent the last 7 years trying to ensure I wouldn't be caught flat footed again.

    What was my preparedness strategy? Well, I laid down a lot of ammo in various cartridges, and I diversified my supply. In terms of ammunition varieties, I a lot of choices. 5.56, 5.45, 7.62x39, 9mm, .308, etc etc etc. I also bought up a lot of ammo to feed old milsurp rifles I own, such as GP11 for my Swiss straight pull rifles.

    Many prefer to keep ammo varieties to a bare minimum and stack DEEP, say 10k+ in one rifle, pistol, and rimfire chambering. Others roll their own and stack components deep.

    What did I do well?

    Well I am a collector at heart, so I have a lot of guns, a lot of magazines, and a lot of ammo. I can happily spend the next 2-3 years going to the range regularly to shoot SOMETHING, and the variety of firearms I own means I will be able to stock up as soon as prices start to fall on one or more of the common cartridges.

    Where did I fall short?

    I got a little complacent about 5.56 and 9mm, and probably should have another 1-2k rounds of each. I will probably be fine, but am down to maybe 3000-4000 rounds of plinking ammo for 5.56 and 9mm, instead of my preferred 5000 rounds.

    .308 I got real complacent on and am down to probably 500 rounds of plinking ammo. But my .308 AR was built from the ground up to eat steel cased dumpster ammo reliably, so I will likely be fine. Just wish I'd stocked up on a few thousand rounds of 27 CPR Tula and wolf.

    I have A LOT of 5.45x39 ammo but only 1 rifle. The shortage of 74 pattern rifles means that my only 5.45 gun is worth upwards of $3000 in current condition with the box, plus a lot of my mags are worth $100+ each, so probably another $1000-$1500 in value. Hopefully PSA comes out with a cheap 74 rifle I can SBR to 12.5" and beat the crap out of in 2020.

    I probably should have invested in owning another common pistol cartridge. I own a 1911 in .45 ACP, but I don't really enjoy shooting it much and may dump it + what ammo I have left from the original case I bought while prices are high. I'm not sure what I would do different next time. .45acp doesn't do much for me, .40 is stupid, and 10mm/.357 Sig/etc is a lot more ass than I really care for in a pistol. Maybe I'll bump my 9mm supply up to 10k next time it is cheap. I have a lot of .38/.357 for one of my lever guns, so maybe I should buy a revolver or one of those ridiculous Coonan .357 1911s.
    Last edited by Cassius; 3/19/2020 3:19am, .
    "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal

    I actually recently got my first firearm, it’s a shame ammo will be harder to get. It’s just a 22lr carbine, and I have 500 rounds I’m taking out to the desert this weekend, but I think we’ll eat through that pretty quick (plus I plan on leaving some home, don’t want to be totally out of bullets in these times).


      I have about 1000 rounds on hand, various calibers. Maybe 1100 now that I think of it. Off site, I have additional maybe 300 rounds or so for the more exotic guns. If I was paying more attention to global crisis than work crisis, I would have those on hand, and maybe backed them up a bit.

      Things that I'm light or empty on:
      .257 roberts
      .32 ACP
      12 gauge shot
      .410 shot
      .22 WMR

      Stock that I'm comfortable with:
      .223 win
      .45 ACP
      .22 long
      .243 win
      Consider for a moment that there is no meme about brown-haired, brown-eyed step children.


        Cassius, could you please explain the “.40 is stupid”, comment? I left my 9 mm to my ex, so the .40 Springfield Armory is the only handgun (that’s not an antique) that I currently own.
        Shut the hell up and train.


          #4 buck: 500 rounds. I don't expect to win more shotgun fights than that.
          #7 1/2 bird: 500 rounds. I'm not much of a bird hunter, and I prefer .22 LR for small game anyway, but 12-gauge will surely fill the pot on days where I am shaky or weak.

          .303 British:
          Military ball (174 gr @ ~2500 fps): 500 rounds plus. My favorite hunting rifle, and not a bad fighting bolt-action if my semiautos give out.
          Remington (215 gr JSP @ ~2000 fps): My favorite cartridge for the New Hampshire mountains. Takes moose cleanly.

          7.62x51mm NATO:
          UK L2A1 (144 gr FMJ @ ~2770 fps): 1800 rounds, minus a few for sighting in. This is the fodder for my M1A and also a small, light bolt-action I have.
          Federal Vital-Shok (165 gr TBT @ ~2700 fps): 300 rounds, minus a few etc. This is for hunting with the small, light bolt-action. Its performance on game up to elk is excellent.

          7.62x39mm Glorious Revolution:
          Red Army Standard (124 gr FMJ @ ~2396 fps): 2000 rounds plus. I have two SKSs, including one 16" carbine with a red dot sight and a Krebs backup aperture. I've made the trigger pull much crisper and a little lighter, and I shortened the stock to fit my frame. That thing is a wand of death out to 200 yards. It points almost like a shotgun. 500 rounds of my ammo is in stripper clips. This will be my first choice in the event of an urban fight.

          .45 ACP:
          Sellier & Bellot (230 gr FMJ @ ~800 fps): 200 rounds. Those are estimated ballistics from my 3.5" barreled 1911. It's no longer my primary pistol, but I'll always treasure the little buddy. Its trigger pull is to die for.

          .40 S&W (LOL @ Cassius):
          Winchester Ranger Talon (180 gr JHP @ ~1015 fps): 500 rounds plus. This is what I keep in two of my Glocks.
          Remington Golden Saber (180 gr JHP @ ~1015 fps): 1000 rounds plus. Fallback ammo. How many pistol duels will I survive anyway?
          MAXX Tech (180 gr FMJ @ ~990 fps): 350 rounds or so. I should get more practice ammo.

          9mm Parabellum:
          Speer Gold Dot (124 gr JHP @ ~1040 fps): 400 rounds. I have 9mm conversion barrels for my .40 Glocks, and one Glock natively chambered in 9mm, plus my old S&W 439. This is what I use for those guns.
          Winchester white box (115 gr FMJ @ ~1100 fps): Over 1000 rounds. I think I stockpiled this accidentally. The answer is clearly more range practice.

          .22 LR:
          CCI Mini-Mag (36 gr CPHP @ ~1260 fps from a rifle): 2000 rounds plus. This is what I feed my Ruger 10/22, my Ruger MkII target pistol, and my Beretta 21A pocket pistol. It's a solid performer on game up to rabbits at 75 yards.

          Number of rounds I expect to expend as a result of this plague: 0.


            Originally posted by jnp View Post
            Cassius, could you please explain the “.40 is stupid”, comment? I left my 9 mm to my ex, so the .40 Springfield Armory is the only handgun (that’s not an antique) that I currently own.
            Sorry, that was pretty childish of​ me. I need to be more careful about following my own rules. What I should have said is that there are aspects of the design of .40s&w that are suboptimal in nature and those, coupled with the relatively high recoil compared to 9mm make it unappealing to me. I would use it if required or if it was really cheap, so bear in mind that my opinion would not not last long when confronted by pragmatism or the almighty dollar.

            .40 is slightly more effective in capacity to wound than 9mm. In that regard, it is as functionally adequate as any of the common pistol rounds. But in the rush to redesign 10mm into .40 s&w for the FBI, its designers managed to make a cartridge that sits at the edge of overpressure for very little added benefit over 9mm. You'll note that the SAAMI spec for 9mm includes +p pressure loadings, whereas .40 +p is likely to be outside of SAAMI spec in some firearms. Even at normal pressures the safety margin on .40 is low relative to 9mm, 10mm, and .45acp.

            It even tends to run higher pressures relative to maximum SAAMI spec than its parent cartridge, 10mm. Even though 10mm loaded to normal pressures tends to be significantly more potent. Additionally, .40 s&w tends to be put into the same size handguns as 9mm, which are typically designed for 9mm and then only tested for safety in .40 (who here likes getting hand me downs? Just ask any female police officer how she feels about body armor). For polymer firearms in particular, that can be fairly rough on the gun, especially if the cartridge is not fully supported when it is chambered. One typically sees shorter firearm life from firearms designed in .40s&w than 9mm or 10mm. 10mm firearms, even though they fire a cartridge capable of generating 200+ ft lbs more energy than .40s&w, tend to last longer than .40 due to two major factors: they are built on larger frames and are not a compressed/high pressure design. Honestly I'm not sure where .357 Sig falls relative to .40s&w so I'll leave that one out.

            Finally, and this is very subjective, is the lack of design advancements on .40 relative to 9mm and even .45acp. While it benefits from a lot of the work that goes into making 9mm ammunition more effective, .40 is not where the development dollars are, in areas of bullet design and firearms design. My favorite example is the new class of high capacity micro compacts, such as the Sig P365 and Springfield Hellcat. I doubt we will see a .40 version of either, both because it would likely be unsafe, and because the recoil would be punishing.

            The good news is that as long as you handle the higher recoil of .40s&w over 9mm well, it is perfectly adequate for self defense. You just need to be more mindful of the round count of the firearm and be diligent in following manufacturer recommendations for replacement of wear items. Modern firearms designers are also much better about specifically designing firearms to handle .40 than they were even 10-15 years ago, thanks to the magic of better/cheaper computer modeling.

            So that is my long form opinion on .40s&w. Obviously don't go selling your firearm just because I am not a fan these days*. It isn't likely to blow up on you, or fail to stop a threat that 9mm or .45acp would successfully stop. Make sure to follow manufacturers recommendations for ammunition and maintenance, to include replacement of wear items.

            *10-15 years ago I wasn't a fan of 9mm and was in the .40 camp. Of course I was also in my early to mid 20s, so I'll leave judgement of that opinion to the reader.
            Last edited by Cassius; 3/19/2020 4:54pm, .
            "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


              Oh and just to be clear I have stockpiled all of this ammo because I love to collect and shoot interesting firearms. I also happen to enjoy training and competing with them when I have time. This isn't some end of the world thing where I am worried I need a lifetime supply of guns and ammo because Coronavirus. It is just really frustrating for me if I can't enjoy one of the only hobbies I have left because panic buying of ammo creates a 2-3 year shortage. And no, in my head at least, creating a stockpile over the course of 2-3 years is not the same as everyone panic buying all at once. I suppose the end result is probably the same though: getting scolded by one's significant other for hoarding.
              "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


                Your opinion of the engineering of .40 pistols was valid when those first came out. The Glock specifically needed to add a second pin to the locking block, for example. However, it's been many years since then, and a lot of law enforcement agencies adopted the cartridge in the interval. Until very recently it was still a popular cartridge in that market. It has seen plenty of development focus.

                I think that .40 firearms which can be readily converted to 9mm with a barrel change and a new magazine are a good idea. Both of my .40 Glocks can be so converted. They are reliable with everything from 115-grain white box to 124-grain +P loads to 147-grain max loads.

                I guess my answer to 9mm vs. .40 is yes, and plenty of both


                  I've left out a bunch of cartridges I don't stock in quantity. For example, I have a .30-40 Krag project rifle that I've been slowly sporterizing for years. It's not currently set up the way I'd want, and I have less than 100 rounds for it. The Lee-Enfield covered me for bigger game anyway.

                  I inherited my father's .38 Special revolver. I have maybe fifty rounds for it. I don't need more. I keep it in memory of the old man. Adelante, El Viejo.
                  ​​​​​I have no idea why I still have a little .32 S&W Long revolver by Hopkins and Allan. I restored it to very nice condition and added some decorative wenge scales to replace the long-gone grips, but I doubt I have a single round left for it.


                    Originally posted by AprilRains View Post
                    Your opinion of the engineering of .40 pistols was valid when those first came out. The Glock specifically needed to add a second pin to the locking block, for example. However, it's been many years since then, and a lot of law enforcement agencies adopted the cartridge in the interval. Until very recently it was still a popular cartridge in that market. It has seen plenty of development focus.

                    I think that .40 firearms which can be readily converted to 9mm with a barrel change and a new magazine are a good idea. Both of my .40 Glocks can be so converted. They are reliable with everything from 115-grain white box to 124-grain +P loads to 147-grain max loads.

                    I guess my answer to 9mm vs. .40 is yes, and plenty of both
                    Please do not take my personal disinterest in .40 for largely arbitrary reasons as discouragement from doing what you want. Like I said, I'd still shoot it if there were compelling reasons. I carried an M11 in the military for awhile. It was fine, but I was much happier when it was replaced with a g19. Part of the problem for me is that it takes a lot to get me excited about a handgun relative to a rifle. To me, rifles are all interesting. Thus it is worth owning lots of them in great variety. When I look at a Vz58, AR15, AK, K31, Winchester 92, or any other rifle, I see something magical. The cartridge design of a rifle is compelling. I can pore over the history of such things for days without coming up for air. When I look at a handgun, even if it's an $8000 custom piece, it's just a thing. Thus I tend to be far more critical of handguns than rifles. It takes a lot to get me excited. The aforementioned P365 and Hellcat actually did that for me the past couple years because they are so darn handy, but that's an exception. I have friends who are the other way around. They have insane pistol collections and passion for days over handgun cartridge history and design, but only own one or two very standard rifles. They see rifles the way I see pistols: as a tool. A boring means to an end.

                    .40 isn't exactly a hand grenade waiting to go off, but it is finicky relative to 9mm or 10mm. Upsizing a handgun to maximize safety leads to something larger and suboptimal compared to 9mm; might as well go with 10mm. Keeping it the same size necessitates a lower safety margin in the firearm. There is simply less material to support the case head. While the redesign of the case head in the mid 90s went a long way toward mitigating the issue with the longer feed ramp intruding into the chamber wall, the fact remains that there is less material surrounding the cartridge than in 9mm. To circle back around to the narrow window of acceptable operating pressures in .40, there is the issue of bullet setback during misfeeds or other malfunctions. Now you have something well outside of acceptable operating pressures sitting in your chamber with no real way of knowing about it.

                    Then there is the question of perceived recoil. .40 recoils more than 9mm in firearms that weigh the same. This bothers some less than others. I am not particularly recoil sensitive, but since 9mm and .40 do basically the same thing, I'll take the thing with less recoil.

                    Conversion kits are fine, but I don't think the cost savings is all that great relative to the annoyance of swapping back and forth. But I am the kind of person who would rather build out two full ARs than swap uppers, e.g. I obviously fall on an outlier when it comes to that particular bell curve.

                    9mm, .40, and .45acp are all fine. They all do the same thing well. But 9mm does it for me, and the other two don't. I wish they did because I like variety. Maybe I'll go curveball next time there is a glut and pick up a Ruger 5.7. That cartridge is kind of silly, but I'm cautiously hopeful that new defensive loadings will be effective. Or maybe I'll cave and go 10mm.

                    Of note: .40 is fantastic if you compete in a shooting sport where power factor is important. Especially with a heavy 2011 design.
                    Last edited by Cassius; 3/19/2020 7:16pm, .
                    "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


                      Don't worry, I don't feel discouraged by your comments. I just don't think they're fully accurate.

                      10mm does operate at more reasonable pressures, but my hands are small. I can't get a good grip on a double-stack 10mm or .45. I can on a double stack .40. (The .45 GAP was a cute idea, but good luck getting ammo.)

                      With the exception of a few target automatics like the Smith & Wesson 41 or my Ruger MkII, I don't find handguns very exciting either. I think that's why I ended up with Glocks. They're easy to get, they're cheap, parts are everywhere. Yes, they are ugly, but even the prettiest handgun does not look all that great to me.
                      I acquired the Krag because it has the smoothest bolt action of any rifle I have ever used. The Lee-Enfield comes close, but it has a slow lock time. The Mauser is simply the bolt action that defined the genre. Very few sporting bolt actions are not on the Mauser pattern. I wish I had a Winchester Model 71. That was smooth too. So I guess we're alike in that as well.

                      I greatly admire aesthetic shotguns, but I never buy any because they're ridiculously expensive. My Remington 870 is a good, functional gun, but I don't pick it up and feel much of anything. A Perazzi light game in 12 gauge is ethereally beautiful and handles like a dream, but I'm not going to pay $20,000 for one.


                        Update: I ordered a case (5000 rounds) of subsonic .22lr. CCI Quiet while it is still pretty inexpensive. I am planning to teach my daughter to shoot in the next year or so. Suppressed .22 with subsonic ammo = much better initial experiences for a kiddo who doesn't love loud noises.
                        "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


                          Not sure I should admit this in a public place, but I am completely out of .45 & 9mm........
                          Its a good thing I am in California where guns are illegal and therefore the bad guys don't have guns.

                          All snark aside I think I am going to unfortunately ride this scare out till I restock :(

                          Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.
                          George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence


                            I took my kids into the back room to show them where all my ammo is and how I have it organized. I didn't really know exactly how much I have. I won't bore you with the details, but I have plenty to last me for a while. But even better than that, I have the dies to reload almost every caliber that I own except 357sig and 22lr obviously. I'm not fucking with those.

                            So to the .40 discussion above, I've got a M&P 40c and I also have the 9mm conversion barrel for it. It shoots 9mm and 40 accurately. I haven't really noticed too much difference in the recoil between the two. The 357sig I have is a G33 and that has a bit of recoil but mainly because of the small grip. I pretty much only shoot it with extended mags and then it's probably my most accurate pistol.

                            All that being said, my G19 is my go to pistol. But I think my best shooting pistol is a Shield 9mm. It shoots really well, and I liked it enough that I bought my wife one.

                            So all of that relates to this discussion in that, other than the 357sig, I can shoot 9mm out of all of those other pistols. So I have a bunch of 9mm and can reload it. But I still want more. That's probably natural.

                            I have a shit ton of 22lr but mostly use it in a .22 pistol that is fun to shoot and in a AR conversion kit that I have. That thing is really fun to shoot.

                            I do have some 380 for a little Bodyguard and G42 that I have, but I don't really stock pile it because I only use those to carry in summer in a pocket holster. So I don't have much ammo for that.
                            Combatives training log.

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