Constitutional Emergency

When stockpiling ammo, should one focus on FMJ and soft nose/hollow points or FMJ only?  FMJ is a better value per bullet, plus it's supposed to be a lot more accurate and reliable than SP/HP, but of course, it sometimes comes at the cost of stopping power.

I'm packing a semi-auto in 308/7.62x51, and to my knowledge, there haven't been many complaints about the stopping power of the 7.62x51 ball cartridge in military circles; many complaints come mainly from the kick and weight.  Add to that the fact that after TEOTWAWKI, shooting through cover and mass fire will become the norm and FMJs look pretty appealing.  Not to mention the fact that most bulk sizes of ammo only come in FMJ.

I've been stocking both so far, but with money getting a bit tight, I'm looking at switching over to just FMJs, so is this a good idea?  Your input is appreciated.

Oh, one more thing: Do you know of any places that offer tracer rounds and which brands are the good ones?  My rifle bolt doesn't lock back when the magazine is empty, so I'm wanting to emulate the fictional Doug Carlton from Patriots.

Sincerely,  - D.S.C.

JWR Replies:

As with all of your other preps, balance is the key. There is no point in buying all premium ammo. Logic dictates that you will need some inexpensive ammo for target practice and some "middling" quality ammo, for barter.

For handguns I current recommend this mix: 80% jacketed hollow points (JHPs), 18% FMJ (aka "ball"), and 2% exotics (tracers, frangible, KTW or Arcane AP, etc.)

For most military caliber rifles I currently recommend this mix: 70% FMJ, 10% spire point soft nose, 10% Match (preferably HPBT), 5% AP, and 5% exotics (such as tracer, incendiary and API.)

For most civilian (hunting) caliber rifles I currently recommend this mix: 90% soft nose, 5% Match (preferably HPBT), and 5% AP handloads, if bullet weights, bullet diameters, and bullet point styles are compatible with pulled military AP bullets. Note, for example, you cannot use pointed bullets in tubular magazine lever action rifles, even if the bore diameter and bullet weight is correct.

Some of my favorite ammo sources are:

Dan's Ammo,
Lucky Gunner,
Sunflower Ammo
Cheaper Than Dirt,
and Keep Shooting.

I also buy some ammo directly from manufacturers, mostly here in the American Redoubt. I recommend:

Black Hills Ammunition
BVAC Ammunition and Components
HSM (aka The Hunting Shack)
Buffalo Bore Ammunition
and Patriot Firearms and Munitions

Oh, and by the way, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson recently mentioned that one of his favorite sources is (They currently have a good deal on Federal 5.56 ball.)

The Talon brand tracer ammo is decent, but given the uneven burning of the tracing composition, the accuracy of virtually all tracer ammo accuracy will never be quite comparable to military ball. The Lake City arsenal tracer ammo is excellent, but it is hard to find. The last time I checked, Lucky Gunner had some, as did UNAC.

There is a great on-line reference site now available, for comparison pricing: Be sure to check it out!

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Cheaper than dirt, ain't neccesssarily so and they are often "Out of Stock."

I guess that later to the dance is better than not going, but most folks of interest have been doing this for awhile and there are some steps you should follow, like using cash, acquiring privately/gun shows, try to have only a few calibers to feed.

Nothing says you have to have all the same ammo in a magazine. 

gunbroker and gunauction are two good source to buy new and military surplus ammo and if you reload is a good source for components. When I load a magazine I load a FMJ and then alternate with JHP's

reloading supplies far easier and you can reload your spend cartridges or theirs.

What ammo should I have on hand to barter with?

Love the 7.62 (M-14), and I never had any complaints with the issue FMJ military ball. Have a bunch of Ball for my '06, but wish I had another 10,000 rounds or more -- NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH AMMO, no matter what the caliber.

I'll add my 2 cents (and a small fortune spent on this topic) to the mix.

First- here's the best search engine out there for ammo and mags.  It's updated daily and puts you on track with just about every dealer on the net.   Prices are listed in ascending order and once you locate what you're looking for, just click on that link. 

That being said, there is a reason that Combat ammo is FMJ.  Accuracy!.  Train like you fight, and learn to conserve ammo.  This means, make your shots count.  Spray and pray is only good for suppressive fire or CQB.  That being said, I load my 30's or 20's (Depending on Caliber) with FMJ.  Preferably M855's (62 gr green tip) or (if you can still locate it... shhhhhh) AP / API (160gr 7.62x51).  As for fire support (suppressive fire) load the Beta-C or X-25 Drums with the cheaper ammo.  Of course I am talking about battle readiness here.  for the range, I'll break in the big dogs (Precision rifles and large calibers) with SP or other (because it's usually cheaper), then dial in optics and sight aps with 55 gr (5.56) or 147gr (.308) std NATO (caliber and weapon type varying) to get the proper BZO. 

This is all taking into consideration that we're talking stockpiling for bad times, of course... again, Train like you intend to fight. 

For pistol; stick to the simple stuff for use in the field.  What's common?  9mm, .45 and maybe 8x18 tok.  Of course there are better calibers out there... who wouldn't appreciate the feel of a .41 Mag when putting down the two legged rodent that just pounded down your front door?  But is it feasible for carry in the field?  Not really.

Shotgun: I prefer 00 and 000 Buck for home use.  Save the slugs for engine blocks, and deer... Joe's gotta eat!  Also, There are plenty of great LL rounds out there for 12 ga.  The UTAS in my ready safe keeps one tube of each, loaded at all times (buckshot and LL).  for those with a STD pump, alternate; first round down the hallway is a rubber ball, then big business for those who didn't get the first message... if you are so inclined.  Besides, for home defense, its much easier to patch the dent from a rubber Less-that-Lethal round, that replace a whole section of wall.  Still, if inexperienced... do what you gotta do... just remember, rounds out can't be recalled.  (PID!  For those who don't understand PID, Positive ID of your target!)

Ok, now for a quickie on combat loads.  We often use tracers at the bottom of our mags, to let the shooter know he's getting low.  Yeah well, often, the FOW (fog of war) takes over, adrenaline is high and those not familiar with being in a firefight, gain tunnel vision really quick, lose attention to that detail and forget that red streak that just zipped out of their muzzle was actually supposed to mean something.  I can't count the number of times I've seen a "joe" continue to squeeze the trigger, bolt locked to the rear, and nothing happening.  Remember, these are not paper targets, you don't have your hearing protection in (likely) and no one is barking "READY ON THE RIGHT, READY ON THE LEFT, READY ON THE FIREING LINE... SHOOTERS SCAN YOUR LANES!"  Not to mention the old adage, tracers work both ways.  This tactic has been used so much that even the insurgents look at the signature of a tracer the same way the Germans recognized the sound of a loud "Ching" when the M1 Garand was out of ammo.  This being said, use tracers sparingly or, change up your SOP for their use.  These visual aids are just like Commo OPSEC... change frequently and ensure everyone is briefed in your group.

Recommendation?  Stick to the common NATO Calibers, first of all.  If not, the Warsaw Pact Calibers: 7.62x39, 7.62x54 RR, 5.54x39... good back ups.  Why? because it's plentiful, in the beginning at least.  Chances are, technology is going to shift in the next decade, but by then, we will have planned accordingly.

So what is a standard load?  We've got all this ammo, but the SJHTF!  What now?  Standard Combat Load (published SOP) is usually 7 x 30 rnd. mags.  We always carried an extra 4 or 5 mags minimum.  Each mag weighs at about a pound each, loaded (this is for 5.56 ammo- 1.5 times that for .308 x 20 rnd mags.)  Ok, so now you just added 12 lbs to the 3 to 5 lbs of battle rattle you hooked up to carry it.  Add the assault pack with 3 days rations, water, socks, flashlight, lensatic compass, IFAC... blah blah blah, and maybe you're one of those guys that has the full IOTV Body Armor...  alright, so at a minimum, your packing 60lbs of extra gear plus a weapon system that weighs anywhere from 6 to 10 lbs.  Easy enough, across the living room to the gun room or out to the range.  Now risky Ranger, hump that crap 10 miles over hills and through forests... do it in a timely fashion, and... be in good enough shape to attribute to the fight.  My point?  Physical Fitness! 

All the stockpiling in the world, won't do you any good, if you die of a heart attack the first time the SHTF.  You don't have to be Rambo fit... but all parties should know their limit and seek to better themselves physically if they intend to contribute on the battle field.  Otherwise... the next topic we should be discussing is safely hiding and disguising ammo stockpiles.

And one last thing to mention:  Resupply!  Those that can't get into the fight, you just became logistics.  But even that stock will run out... Have a plan on the objective, to scuttle every piece of equipment you can.  Ammo, weapons, first aid supplies are the priority, along with commo items and then food, water, vehicles and gear.

+1 on

Thank all who have responded to my question of what to stockpile for bartering....I now have my next step as to how to move forward. I will do my best to have on hand what others will need.

Yes, I see myself as being a part of logistics. Do you have ideas for safely hiding and disguising ammo stockpiles....also, safely hiding other goods? I live in a gated community with deed restrictions, so this environment has its challenges.Let's think outside the box.

I don't know who still has many of them, but the aluminum sealable containers that you usually find in medical units are perfect for what you are talking about.  They are about 3' x 2' x 14" roughly and have 3 clasps down the sides and two on the ends, along with carrying handles.   I haven't seen many on the market since the mid 90's but am sure they are still out there.  

the old Mortar Round containers are good as well, especially for the AR Platforms, since you can break them down for stowage. The only issue is some of these cans have dividers welded into them.  Just be careful when cutting them out, and don't use any flame producing cutting tools.  A vendor in Northern Ohio did that in 98 and almost died from the toxic gas that was produced. 

How about the ammo you need to stockpile is the ammo you need for your own guns and the ammo you need for barter.



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