Ammo: To Hoard or Reload
Hoarding Ammo & Reloading Ammo by Richard Bogath
This is not meant to contribute in any way to a debate as to whether or not you should have a gun in your home for protection. Owning a firearm for defensive purposes is an extremely sensitive issue, but one that has prepared individuals and families churning over the decision as to how many and what kind they need.
Probably the largest consideration when deciding how many and what kind will come down to exactly one question. Ya got ammo or what?
While it’s extremely impressive to say that you are going to defend your land and homestead from invaders with a roof-mounted .308 Lapua while wearing a .50 cal desert Eagle at your hip if “they” get in close, the reality of the situation is that ammo—especially ammo for what was mentioned above—is expensive. Damn expensive.
Owning lots of different types and calibers of firearms for the enthusiast is just fine—I’m an enthusiast myself—but when it comes to the preparedness for defense, the understanding that guns are completely useless without ammunition must be at the forefront of the decision. How much ammo you have will depend on the use. 50 rounds of big game hunting ammunition could literally last you years if you manage a decent one-shot-one-kill ratio to fill your freezer with meat every year. But 50 rounds of 9mm handgun ammo is little more than a practice session for most shooters.
So with that understanding, what do we do to guarantee that we will have available ammo for all our realistic needs both immediate and future? Do we hoard it or do we reload our own?
Not much to the act of hoarding ammo. Buy as much as you can, as often as you can, shoot only a minimal amount in order to keep in practice, and store the rest wherever you can to keep you in supply while limiting unauthorized access to it. I know some ammo hoarders who could shoot 100 rounds of 9mm ammo every day for the rest of their natural lives and still come out with plenty of stock to pass down to the kids.
Positives: You have it when you need it. It can be stashed or hidden. In catastrophic instances it can be cautiously used as a form of currency.
Negatives: It’s expensive. It can make you a target of thieves. It can allow inappropriate access to danger by youths. Requires climate controlled conditions for optimal storage.
“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
This very much applies when it comes to reloading your own ammunition. So long as you possess the 4 components of a bullet cartridge (projectile, casing, powder and primer) and a press to bring it all together, the intricacies of reloading your own ammunition are yours to master.
As a reloader myself, I maintain the perspective of realistic available space to the quantity of ammo ratio. What this means is that 1000 rounds of ammunition takes up a certain amount of space. Each of the 4 components necessary to make 1000 rounds of ammunition will each take up about half the amount of space in storage. Based on this formula, it stands to reason that hoarding makes more sense as the finished cartridges will take up 1/2 of the space necessary for storage.
While this is technically true, you must remember that this is per caliber. So If I am loading 1000 rounds of 9mm, storing it, then loading 1000 rounds of .38 for my revolver—that’s twice the amount of storage for the completed cartridges. Throw in 1000 rounds of .375 magnum and then another 1000 of .40 cal and look at how much space is being absorbed by the different calibers. As a reloader, these 4 different calibers can all use the same powder and primers and only require different projectiles and casings. You also have to ability to make more of what you need, as you need it. Run out of 9mm when SHTF and you’re 9mm Glock is a worthless paperweight if you can’t find more. As a reloader, just step up to the press and within 1 hour another 1000 rounds pours out.
Positives: As mentioned, a supply of countless, on-demand rounds so long as you have the materials and access to the press.
Negatives: As mentioned, a supply of countless, on-demand rounds so long as you have the materials and access to the press.
As a reloader and someone who likes to be prepared for lifes little contingencies, I actually prefer both methods. Hoard a little, reload a lot—especially for practice. You are practicing with your firearms, right? Well save yourself 50% of the retail cost of ammo by reloading your own and keep the factory stuff packed away in plastic, resealable (waterproof) plastic jars that you buy pretzels in while at your favorite neighborhood big-box store.
If you are going to reload—learn from someone. I didn’t take the traditional “Buy a single stage press and learn to do it slowly by making 100 rounds in 8 hours”. Instead, I jumped right in and bought the best quality press that I could buy along with 3 sets of dies for the three most popular handgun cartridges that I use and I learned from others by asking questions, inviting myself over to their houses with arms full of baked goods to watch, try, listen and try some more. Never stop learning.
I suggest the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit, Green (its the John Deere of Reloading Kits).
If you are going to hoard—hoard smartly. Hoard ammo that you will use and not to make a profit with. It never works out in the end. Better to have lots of ammo that you can use in your personal firearms for practice and defense. Don’t buy the most expensive but at the same time don’t buy floorsweep ammo either.
If you are going to do both, be smart with your reloading and your hoarding. Play with the loads and develop what will be best for your guns then put some away every week and practice with the rest.