Economically managing your ammunition---your protocol

Ammunition, even the cheap stuff, can be costly if you buy (and shoot) a lot of it.
Buying handgun is much like owning a horse—the feed bills can, over time, be expected to cost more than the critter!
How much you’re willing to invest depends on your individual income, but invest you must if you want to develop and maintain your competency as a shootist.

There are some decent alternatives to live fire but none can fully take the place of actual range time.
Some people hand load their own ammunition but many are unable to, often due to time or space constraints—or a healthy fear.

Many discriminate between cheaper range ammo and often more costly carry ammo while others train with the same ammo they carry. Yet there is no denying that ammo must be purchased and expended.

How do you do that?

Do you buy all your range ammo for the year (say) at one time in bulk from an internet dealer? Or do you simply pick up a box or two when you visit the range for target practice?

For carry ammo, do you keep a box or two and replace it with fresh ammo every year or two or three?

With ammo shortages in recent memory, do you keep a stock of ammo for emergencies?
How do you decide on which ammo to stock up on? Do you have a protocol in place for shooting the old stuff and replacing it with fresh?

In view of maybe getting into hand loading, do you save your brass empties? Do you take this into consideration when buying ammo (some brass has a better reputation than others, and then there is the small primer/large primer issue with .45 ACP brass and the crimped primer issue presented by some milsurp ammo)

Do you have a plan to share, and how is it working for you?

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I buy range ammo in lots of 1,000 and my defense ammo in lots of 200-300. I keep ~2,000-2,500 range ammo and 500-700 defense ammo on hand. I expect to build up my ammo stores over time. You can never have too much ammo.

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I’ll let others talk about how they budget their ammo. Here are a couple of threads that might help:





And info on starting to reload:

I’m sure a bunch of people will have great feedback for you, @John292!

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Properly stored ammunition does not need to be rotated; it doesn’t “expire” or age out.

I budget for my ammo purchases, which allows me to buy in bulk during the sales. I double down if possible during low points (like right now), and back off some when prices are high. I also reload some calibers so I can shoot even more. My bulk purchases are both local and internet. Depends on what is available and caliber. The ammo I carry in the gun is shot each month and then replaced.

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You’ve got it, @MarkinMT! Here’s a blog article that talks about storage for everyones reference as well:

I have fired 100-year-old ammunition with good results. I have also seen ammunition become corroded and useless in a few months because the quartermaster stored it in cruiser trunks or in the basement of a police department. Your storage method will determine the shelf life of your ammo.

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I’ll have to disagree, at least a little bit as many years ago I purchased a few hundred rounds of brand new Remington parabellums which I then stored in a cool dry climate controlled place for over two decades. I took a box to the range and none of the rounds were able to fully operate the action.
There was no problem shooting the Norma and Winchester rounds I had along, so it wasn’t the gun’s fault. The Remington brass wasn’t corroded in any way so those weren’t an issue, and the primers detonated as expected so .I could rule out contamination. I pulled a few bullets and found the powder “fluffy” and healthy looking.

Military ammunition stocks are rotated or even destroyed after a length of time. The ammo might still go “bang” but with reduced performance. Worse case scenario is ammo going “bang” on it’s own. Before old ammo was carefully being culled as it has been since WW2, it was not uncommon for military ammo stockpiles to suffer catastrophic explosions.
The stories about Civil War artillery shells exploding are because black powder is a simple compound made up of stable elements—black powder can only break down into charcoal, saltpeter and sulphur—all kind of benign on their own but quite powerful when combined!.
Double base smokeless powder OTOH contains small quantities of nitroglycerin and while modern powders are very stable, poor storage conditions and even old age can cause deterioration. Even single base powder can go bad and corrode the canister it came in.

Even dynamite can “weep” nitroglycerin after time (a weeping crate was discovered in the cellar in our old farmhouse—let me tell you there are few calls to make that are quite as exciting as requesting the Sheriff to send out his bomb squad!).
I have 50 year old .22LR and 12 GA shotshells that still safely function, but I wouldn’t trust them to defend my family

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@John292

Great question, I keep a decent amount of ammo on hand for each calibre I own, both range and carry (I have a separate safe for ammo). I shoot out my available ammo every few months. Just to keep the muscle memory fresh of the difference between carry and range. I use a FIFO (first in first out) method on ammo. So it’s constantly being churned just due to usage.

I usually spend about $200 a month on ammo. Mostly on .45

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I buy in multiples of 1000 rounds - AngelfireAmmo.com has some good bulk deals if you’re in for multiplying by 2000. When I can see the bottom two boxes of the bulk practice rounds stack, I order more. We try to keep a plentiful supply of all calibers we’re shooting on hand. Over time, we put some by, some out of every lot.

Nothin’ sadder than opening the lid and seeing the bottom of the ammo can :cry: :wink:

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I buy range ammo 1000 at a time and replenish when I get down to 2000 rounds.
I buy carry ammo about 300 at a time and about half is kept in magazines ready to deploy. These get used for target ammo about every 2 years.

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I buy 1000 at a time and always keep around 1k of factory and a couple hundred rounds of the good stuff. I also same my brass and most regular shooting is with my reloads. I buy primers and slugs by the thousand and always have a bunch of each on hand. Also always have a few cans of powder. Shooting 4 or 5 grains in a 9, the 7000 grains in a lb goes a long way😏

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So I’m a bit different. Gee go figure.

I reload at 1K per batch. I reload to the same velocity and boolet weight of my carry ammo.

1K of factory .45ACP 230gr ammo costs any where from $300 - 375 give or take.

1K of reloads costs $125 for boolets, $36 for primers and $28 for powder: or $180 ish bucks + my time which I find to be an enjoyable expenditure.

Cheers,

Craig6

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My hubby is finally getting his reloading area set up again… he reloads in the several-thousand-lot when he’s doing it.

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Like most who responded already I buy my range ammo in bulk (1000 rnds) during sales and get my carry ammo during sales as well but in smaller lots (100 - 200 rnds). After the Obama ammo shortage I admit to having about 5 times more tucked away than I did before… I never dreamed that there would be a day when you couldn’t walk into a store and buy a brick of .22’s .

I do rotate my ammo even though it is stored properly. I also pull a few rounds out of each new box and put them in the range pile with carry ammo that is being swapped out for fresh loads. If I do get unlucky enough to buy that one box of carry ammo with bad primers or some other defect I want to catch it before I find myself in a real life defense situation.

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I shoot my ammo in FIFO (First In First Out). Maybe about 80% is range ammo, and the other 20% is defensive ammo. I will rotate defensive ammo once or twice a year (shoot it, and refill mag with fresh ammo). Range ammo just gets used up and when the stash drops below a certain number I’ll order more.

Ammo saving is kind of like saving money. For money, at first you save up enough so that you have one month’s worth of bills (cover rent, food, gas, etc). Then take a break and your next goal is 2months of runway. Next goal is 3 months, then 6 months, etc.

Save enough ammo to keep for your next range trip. Then save up so you don’t need to buy for several range trips. At this point you probably figure out that buying in bulk saves you a lot of money. So then you save up a years worth, then maybe several years worth.

I’ve had people ask me “how much ammo do I need”. My general advice (keep in mind I live in a liberal area) is to measure how much you shoot per trip, multiply by number of trips to the range, per year. And try to keep at least one year’s supply handy. That should get you past any short term ammo shortage or price jumps and lets you keep an eye out for sales and pounce when it’s advantageous instead of needing to buy “now” because you have to. From there I encourage being able to save up to weather any abrupt changes in leadership in government (4 yrs or maybe 8yrs of anti-gun president for example).

In today’s climate I think it’s pretty reasonable to consider “what if they ban ‘assault weapon ammo’?” and do you have enough to feed (for example) an AR15 for the next few decades if there isn’t any more available for purchase. Or maybe some other ammo shortage like .22LR was very scarce for a while, and what was available was very high priced. Or (like in California) what if by taxes (or UBC fees) the cost starts to get oppressive.

I have a few calibers (9mm, 5.56/.223, .22LR) that I will always make sure to keep a good supply of, and a few that I keep lesser amounts because I just don’t use them as much (300BO, 20gauge).

Storage space is a consideration too. Once you grow past a few ammo cans that can be stacked in a corner, you need to worry about access (of course the one i need is at the bottom) do you build shelves for them, are they secured in some way (safe or lockable cabinet or closet), how much livable square footage do you give up to store ammo that for the most part just sits there.

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@Harvey you and I an definitely be friends :smiley: :laughing:
:+1: strategy :smiley:

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If it’s on sale, I buy it. It does not matter how much I have of it. I have over 10K of .22 long rifle (and some shorts). CCI, Eley, Federal…

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Most of my training ammo consists of my own reloaded cartridges. Most of that ammo uses home-cast bullets that I pour. It is fairly easy to derive loadings that closely duplicate factory ammo performances without magic or incantations.

My carry ammo is ALL–WITHOUT EXCEPTION–factory loads. This has nothing to do with gunwriter screed about lawyer-claimed rantings about RELOADED KILLER AMMUNITION. This is about sealed case mouths and primer pockets that prevent fouled charges and priming via moisture or petrochemical solvents. I was a co-investigator in several dozen homicide cases and hundreds of aggravated assaults in a very 2nd Amendment-hostile State (CA). NOT ONCE did I hear a question concerning “Factory ammo vs. reloaded cartridges”. FWIW.

Reloading is not for everyone. I can reload my training ammo for about 5%-7% of the money cost of WWB FMJs. But you are kidding yourself if you think you will “Save money” by reloading ammunition. You may get more ammunition per dollar spent, but your time is worth something, too. A lot of people don’t cipher that out. If you enjoy being “hands on” with ammo creation–and want to cultivate a related hobby interest–then go ahead and dive in. You won’t be saving money, though. That is a myth.

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@Allen21 I will have to take the opposite side of the saving money argument, but then again I have reloaded literally 100’s of thousands of rounds that there was no way I could have ever afforded to buy. Yes time is a consideration but it is time I usually spend doing things I enjoy and reloading is one of those things. Since I am more of a rifle guy now than pistol like I was the $$$$ saved add up VERY quickly considering they don’t make what I shoot. Years ago I had Peter Pi from Black Hills quote me 1000 rounds of my 30-06 load and it was north of $1.5K, to roll my own was less that $500. That said I could have it in 7 days delivered to any location, it would take me a bit longer than that to load it myself.

Cheers,

Craig6

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I have a minimum amount I want on hand at any one time. We can’t mail order ammo where I live, so I just make sure to pickup an extra box or two of ammo every time I go to the range (even if it’s to window shop) until I meet my requirement, and then don’t dip into it unless rotating newer ammo. This also works for monthly expense budgeting, and for those with limited storage space.

Additionally, over the last few years I changed my caliber preferences to include one’s that I was confident with WWB JHP and/or Rem UMC (S)JHP options and performance, so stocking up or testing new firearms for JHP reliability doesn’t break the bank. I got tired of tracking down a specific brand or a specific bullet style over the years, so this works out for me. It also helps in situations like we’re seeing now, where the latest and greatest tech bullets might not be available and you’re stuck with… well… WWB and Rem UMC on the shelves. YMMV.

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Ok, most of this thread has focused on the ACQUISITION of ammo and the economics and protocols around it…

What about the economics of managing the EXPENDATURE of that ammunition for practice? Are you cutting down or reps and or range time?

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