How Much Ammo Should You Have: a Guide for Different Firearms

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The question “How much ammo should I have” is the one a lot of gun-users face one day, especially when they have little experience and/or knowledge. Unfortunately, the answer to how much ammo is enough isn’t as easy as a simple numerical value. That is because how much ammo you need mostly depends upon how often you use a gun and for what situations.

However, one of the most important things you need to know before finding out how much ammo to stockpile, is that there are no federal limits to how much ammunition you can legally own. Just as long as you are not in a restricted group nor storing prohibited types of ammunition. It also depends on the state and/or municipality, since there could be a limit to how much you can store in one location. Therefore any person who plans on storing ammunition should pay attention to their local laws and guidelines on how to store ammunition. Massachusetts, for example, limits the amount of small arms ammunition to no more than 10,000 rounds of rim fire ammunition, 10,000 rounds of center fire ammunition, and no more than 5,000 rounds of shotgun ammunition in a single building or structure. Connecticut, as another example, also imposes laws on the amount of ammunition that can be stored in a magazine to no more than 750,000.

Regardless, it is always a smart move to prepare backup ammunition, that is we wish to show you the different ways to calculate how much ammo to store, the best ammo to stockpile, and important things to note when storing ammo.

How Much Ammo Should You Have?

First, you should take note of how many different types of ammunition you could use. This depends on how many different types of firearms you own. You should consider listing in order of competency, which of your firearms will be the one you will largely use for whichever scenario you imagine you’re most likely to run into. Remember, even trained professionals tend to have dismal hitrates, especially under stressful situations. Thus, whichever firearm you choose, you should be practicing regularly with them so that you can deploy them easily under duress. It would be pointless to store ammunition for a gun you rarely fire if limited money and storage space are considerations. You may prioritize different firearms under different scenarios, since how much ammo for shtf you need is not the same as how many rounds you need for self defense.

Once you have determined the priority order, you should figure out how often you practice/plan to practice with them, how many rounds you use per practice session. Then just make note of your minimum rounds to store based on 6 months to 1 year of pure target shooting. Once you have that number, decide how long you will be unable to obtain more and add that length of time to the previous amount. It is likely that you will reserve your ammunition in the event your hypothetical situation(s) happen, and that you won’t need the same amount in an active shooting situation as you would in your regular practice sessions, so basing it off the number of rounds you go through per training session is an easy way to figure out how much ammo is enough.

The next thing you should take into consideration when deciding how much ammo to store is price, quality, and availability. After all, there’s no point chasing down high priced rare ammo if you plan to store as much as you can. And neither would it make sense to go for very cheap but unreliable rounds, since they can jeopardize your and your family’s safety during crucial moments.

For Handguns

Handguns such as a Walther P22, Glock, Colt e.t.c are most often used in a home defense scenario. This is also one of the most common types of firearms,thus it’s always easy to find ammo for it. Usually the most common handgun magazines are semi-automatic and 1911 magazines. If you regularly practice with a handgun, then consider keeping a 1-2 years worth of ammunition.

For Hunting Rifles

Hunting rifles such as the 308 Rifle, Remington 700, Savage M 220 e.t.c along with shotguns, do not generally need a license for purchase. Rifles tend to hold a lower number of rounds— between 2 and 5. But for those who often use this for recreational hunting, you should consider making this a primary firearm, especially if you believe you will be using it to acquire food for yourself or your family. Consider keeping at minimum 2 years worth of ammunition. It can be used for home defense, but is best for longer ranged targets, since it isn’t as maneuverable in tight spaces as a handgun may be.

For Shotguns

The principle behind how much ammo to keep for shotguns is similar to those of a hunting rifle, but keep in mind the type of shot you use. It can be used for home defense as well, but may cause more property damage than a pistol.

For AR-15

An AR-15’s applications tend to be for rapid deployment of multiple rounds, but since it can eat bullets, making it an expensive firearm to store ammunition for, you will have to make the choice of whether or not to store large amounts of ammunition if space and money are a factor. Whatever you believe your application may be, you should have at minimum 6 months to a year’s worth of bullets you use for regular practice, plus however much more you can afford.

For Rare/Random Calibers

We don’t recommend stockpiling rare/random calibers for firearms that you rarely use. The biggest reason is – it’s not very cost-efficient. However, if you’re simply stockpiling them for future practice and/or worried about availability, the general principle of storing a year’s worth of ammunition at minimum applies.

How Many Magazines Should I Have?

Usually follow the military for a minimum number of magazines. Meaning two high capacity pistol magazines minimum per pistol, and seven 30 round magazines per rifle. If you live in a state that restricts the capacity of the magazine, make the calculation of magazines based on the rounds. This means someone in New York might have to purchase more magazines than someone in a less restrictive state.

Ammo Storage Tips

  • Check your local laws and regulations, from your local Fire Marshall about how you should store your ammo and what special requirements they may have.
  • Get a fireproof and waterproof safe for your ammunition for both safety and longevity.
  • Don’t purchase more ammunition than you can safely store.
  • Organize your ammunition in a way you can easily sort through.
  • Use silica gel and air tight containers to keep your ammo as dry as possible.
  • Label your ammunition with dates of purchase, and other relevant information such as seller info, just so if something goes wrong with them, you can easily track down all the ones that may have been bought with them.


How many rounds do you need for self defense depends entirely on your financial and storage situation. If you’re on a tight budget, then of course it’s not a good idea to blow all your money on ammo, it’s best to wait and purchase only what you can, within your budget. Moreover, how much ammo is enough depends on the type of weapon you have and how often you use it. So if you like to practice shooting regularly, then of course it’s a better idea to store more ammunition and vice versa.

So all and all, we hope that we’ve helped anyone who was wondering: “How much ammo should I have and how much ammo is enough?”. So keep these little tips in mind, choose what is the best option for you, and good hunting!