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September 20, 2020

Gun Thread: Gimme Ammo Edition [Weasel]

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Howdy again, and welcome to another installment of the Gun Tread! Happy to have you here! I'm headed to the farm bright and early Sunday morning for a few days and will be posting the thread from there. As I write this on Saturday, I'm planning to take a couple of rifles and a bag of handguns and hope to spend all of at least one day shooting and recording video. The weather is forecast to be perfect with temps in the 70's, low humidity and plenty of sunshine. Perfect weather for organic tree farming!

We have plenty of content for this week, so let's get to that below, shall we?

For a little over two years now, I have been including a weekly recommendation here in the ol' Gun Thread for you all to buy ammunition. Why? Because running out of ammo and not being able to buy more sucks.

Ammunition is a commodity, and is subject to the market dynamics of supply and demand. Put too much strain on either of these factors and the market goes haywire. Welcome to today. Early in my shooting career, I lived through a number of ammunition market disruptions caused by changes in the political winds or component shortages. The end result was the same though, bare shelves in the ammo department and no shootin' for Weasel. I wanted to be able to shoot during the lean times without worrying about running out of ammo and I also didn't want to go to the poor house in the process.

As with any commodity, you need to think of ammunition as an asset, and the purchase of ammunition as an investment in that asset. Buying ammunition over time allows you to dollar-cost average your purchases and remove some of the market price volatility. You can add to that strategy opportunistic purchases here and there when you find a sale or free shipping offer to further reduce your overall cost and build a reserve.

So I did two things, I started reloading and found that was fun, and I made the conscious decision to get ahead of the curve in purchasing commercial ammunition in every caliber I shoot when it was readily available. Since then, I have never been short of ammunition. One big question remains, though. How much ammunition is enough, especially in these uncertain times which we're all in together?

Our pal A.H. Lloyd addresses the question:

Seriously, How Much Ammo is enough?

For months we've been admonishing each other to "buy more ammo," but there comes a point where you hit law of diminishing returns. This is particularly true when ammo prices have spiked, the lingering lockdowns are making everything harder to get, and you have to live within a budget.

Before I answer the question, we have to dig a little deeper.

Enough for what?

That's the real question. I think most people aren't talking about having enough ammo go to hunting next fall, or for the trap shooting competition in the spring. The people chiefly asking this question are new or inexperienced gun owners worried about personal and household safety.

So to answer their question, we have to look at four areas:

- Basic firearms instruction
- Weapon proficiency
- Skill maintenance
- SHTF reserves

Basic firearms instruction can be with any firearm, but the two most popular are smaller-caliber revolvers or .22LR autoloaders (take a bow, Ruger Standard Mks I-IV). With things as they are, people may be getting basic instruction their primary weapon, which can make for a steeper learning curve in the short run, but does save time and ammo overall. So let's look at the numbers.

Most instruction courses run through about 100 rounds or so. By the time you've gone through that, you can safely handle a firearm and operate it with reasonable accuracy. The next step is building proficiency. The goal here is to confidently with reliable shot placement even under some form of stress. Depending on the person, this can go quickly or slowly, but I'd count on at least doubling the basic training amount. The better you want to get, the more you have to practice, and that takes ammunition. If I had to hazard a number, I'd budget 200-300 rounds for most people to get comfortable with their weapon.

By the way, this assumes you are doing non-live fire training, such as disassembly, dry fire practice, reloading drills, etc. You can also maximize your range time by putting less than the maximum in your magazine or cylinder. What this does is force you to reload more often, building in your comfort. It also forces you to acquire your front sights more frequently. You see, if you load 20 rounds in your Glock, you only acquire the target once. After you've found your sights, the remaining 19 shots are getting you less training because you're doing repeat movements. However, if you load only five rounds, for the same amount of ammunition, you will get four times as much experience in loading and aiming.

Shooting is a perishable skill. You need to keep it current or you get rusty. You should go to the range as often as possible, but you don't have to go through mountains of ammunition. As with every other activity, there's a point where you've hit the peak for the session and your performance falls off. I find that about 50 rounds is a nice session, especially when broken up into 5-round increments. If you want to build experience, you can of course double that amount, but we're talking minimums here.

Finally, there's the SHTF situation we're all worried about. Some folks will remember that I sometimes cite the Rule of Three for self-defense scenarios. This holds that the majority of self-defense shootings take place at less than 3 yards, last 3 seconds or less, and only 3 shots are fired. Interestingly, we're seeing that even in a riot scenario, this is pretty accurate. The Kenosha Kid got involved in two separate encounters, both lasting mere seconds, both at close range and it appears that he only fired four rounds in each one. So the notion that you should be prepared to go through multiple high-capacity magazines in a prolonged firefight seems unlikely. Of course, anything can happen, but having an emergency reserve of 50 rounds or so will likely get you through the vast majority of potential violent encounters.

To be clear, what we're talking about is risk. Risk is not even, and you can always find that 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 chance that you failed to prepare for. The problem with risk is that stopping that extreme event may be next to impossible. That is why we speak of "mitigating" risk rather than "eliminating" it.

The Bottom Line
As we've seen, most of the ammunition people are stockpiling is for practice purposes, not extended combat operations. In fact, if one looks at historical precedent, the "chaotic" stage of a civil war typically lasts weeks, not months or years. If there isn't an immediate winner (say through a coup), the next stage is a pause while both sides open the armories, seize military/police stocks and start creating more formal fighting forces. At that point, you won't be buying ammunition so much as having it issued to you.

Another scenario is one of prolonged civil disorder, which results in higher crime, sporadic outbreaks but never really gets to full-on civil war. This will severely limit ammo supplies and keep the cost high, meaning you will get less practice. My advice is therefore not to focus on "wartime" or SHTF ammo, but building up a reserve for practice. Come up with a schedule and plan out how much you will use over time.

For example, maybe you can only make it to the range once a month. With fewer sessions, you will want to get in more practice, so using 100 per trip makes sense.. A stockpile of 300 rounds would leave you with 100 for SHTF situations and two months' practice. If you can, work to extend that, either by making a bulk buy which can leave you set for six months to a year, or simply visiting stores each week or so and buying a box here or there. I'm sure lots of people will say you can never have enough ammo, but we know that's not true. If you bankrupt yourself, or can't feed your family or even store what you're buying, you have too much. That's why even the retailers are saying "look, if you've got 5,000 rounds, maybe hold off for a bit on buying more."

Very nicely done, A.H. Lloyd! It's a matter of both personal preference and economics, but I generally look at the worst possible case scenario, as in the really, really, really worst case scenario, and that's one where the supply is not ever coming back. Part of that is because I'm a glass half-empty sort of guy, and in that case I feel more comfortable with something on the upper end of the six months to a year range. That being said, A.H. Lloyd gives us a very reasonable basis for deciding where we should be, reserve-wise.

So how about you all? Are you all set or do you have a ways to go? Things are tough right now, but ammunition can be found and judiciously used while building a reserve. Perhaps now is a time to focus less on live fire practice until you have saved enough for a rainy day. Do you have a plan?


Speaking of ammunition, the question of steel case vs. brass case ammo comes up here from time to time. Is it any good? Will it harm your firearm? Well, steel cased ammunition has been around for a while and here is a video from Brownell's on the topic.

I have been augmenting my brass case ammo with steel case and even aluminum case ammunition for recreational shooting and practice in a couple of calibers for some time, and they work just fine with no unusual wear that I can see. Maybe something for you to think about if the opportunity presents itself.


I absolutely loved the story of the Winchester Model 1873 found in Great Basin NP in 2015 when I first heard it.

winchester scaled.jpg

And now we have a nice video follow up on what the NPS is doing with the firearm.

Is that cool, or what? I think I'd have wet my pants if I had found the rifle! One of the reasons I am so enamored with old firearms is wondering where they have been throughout the years and who their previous owners might have been, and my imagination sort of runs wild in this case!


Always a crowd pleaser, Jerry Miculek repeats his 1,000 yd shot with a Smith & Wesson Model 629. This time he nails a balloon. Holy Crap!

That's some shooting, right there. Luck, talent, or a little of both? I've always said that it's not the first shot that matters, but rather the ability to put a second and third shot on top of the first. Still, a remarkable demonstration. What do you all think?


Next our pal Oldgeezer sends in something I've never seen before.

These are 7.62x39 rounds like I have never seen before after 25 years of SKSs and AKs. They are shiny polished steel cases, lacquer sealed primers/bullets and have a pimple on the tip of a solid bullet - not hollow point. I bought an AK from a guy years ago and he had a magazine loaded with these. I have tried on and off to find out who made them and what the purpose the pimple serves.

oldgeezer 1 092020 scaled.jpg

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Nice find, Oldgeezer! These are certainly a mystery to me too. How about it? Anyone know what these tipped rounds might be?


Finally we have an anecdote from our pal and delightful 'ette, Jane D'oh.

Mr. D'oh has a vendor in Atlanta who comes down regularly and he was down about three weeks ago and checked in at a local boutique hotel. It's part of a large hotel chain that he is a platinum member of. As he approached the front desk, the young, mask-wearing woman behind the desk informed him he needed to wear a mask. He politely explained that he was legally carrying and under GA law could not wear a mask while carrying. She still insisted he wear a mask. He explained again why he couldn't, and then said, "Let me just sign in and get my key." So she let him. When he got in his room, he pulled out his laptop and sat down at the desk to get some work done. There was a knock at his room door, and when he opened it there were not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX of Savannah's finest in the doorway.

The front desk snowflake had called them and reported a scary gun owner was in the hotel. He invited the boys in blue in and showed them his gun and permit, and they apologized all over the place for having to answer the call. However, they told him Miss Snowflake wanted him out of "her" hotel. So he packed up and moved to another hotel nearby.

He said his only regret was not getting a selfie with the six police officers.

Unbelievable. Have any of you had a problem with hotels while carrying, masked or otherwise? Thanks for sending this to us, Jane!


Our pal qdpsteve sends us a great picture of an American classic.

I found these at the Walmart nearest to me in Lakewood, California. California! Reminded me a lot of A Christmas Story as well as the gun thread.

DaisyRedRyder qdpsteve 091920 scaled.jpg

Nice find qdpsteve! Did you buy one?



I'm really very seriously not kidding around anymore. Buy Ammo
AmmoSeek - online ammo search tool
GunBot - online ammo search tool
SG Ammo
Palmetto State Armory
Georgia Arms
Target Sports USA

***Mail Bag***

Our pal hogmartin sends us the following - and man, ain't it the truth!

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Please note the new and improved gmail account morongunthread at gmail dot com. An informal Gun Thread archive can be found HERE. If you have a question you would like to ask Gun Thread Staff offline, just send us a note and we'll do our best to answer. If you care to share the story of your favorite firearm, send a picture with your nic and tell us what you sadly lost in the tragic canoe accident. If you would like to remain completely anonymous, just say so. Lurkers are always welcome!

That's it for this week - have you been to the range?

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posted by Open Blogger at 07:00 PM

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