Without the necessary ammo and magazines, a gun is little more than a metal or plastic club (and not a very good one at that).
A major goal of every survivalist should be good security, and make no mistake: A loaded gun is far more effective than one that’s not!
Most of your “gun money” should be spent on ammunitions and magazines. Many people like to customize their guns with various accessories, often paying far more than the gun is itself worth. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to deck their AR-15s or AK-47s out with the coolest-looking amenities.
In reality, the only additional things your AR-15 or battle rifle needs is a good optic (if you don’t prefer open sight) and a fore grip if that makes you more comfortable shooting. All of the money that you would have spent on customizing your weapon should instead be spent on buying ammo and magazines so that you can constantly practice. Concurrently, your sidearm doesn’t need any fancy upgrades, either. Instead, buy ammo — and practice, practice, practice.
If you can buy 1,000 rounds of ammo for practice and shoot through them at the range, you’ll find your accuracy, discipline, skill and experience with your weapon will increase dramatically. If the grid goes down and the worst comes to worst, you’ll have a definite advantage.
As a general rule of thumb, you should always keep a minimum of 1,000 rounds of ammunition per caliber stored away not to be used for practice, and another pile of 1,000 rounds for practice. That’s a minimum of 2,000 rounds that you’ll have to buy over time, and that’s also just for one caliber.
That’s a lot of ammunition, and it doesn’t come cheap. One strategy to cope with this is to buy a box or two every time you visit a sporting goods store or anywhere that sells ammo; you’ll find that you can increase your ammo count substantially over time.
In short, if you invest your money into two 1,000-round stockpiles of ammo per caliber, one pile to be kept in storage and the other for practice on the range, you’ll be much more proficient (and deadly) with your weapon and you also won’t have to worry about running low in the event of a shortage or a grid-down situation. By all means, ammunition is a far more valuable investment than fancy upgrades to your gun to make it look cool.
You would also be wise to purchase and train with military calibers, as they will usually be the most plentiful: 9mm and/or .45 ACP for handguns, 5.56x45mm (also .223 Remington) and/or 7.62x51mm NATO (also .308 Winchester) for rifles, and 12-gauge for shotguns.
Additional popular calibers with Americans, despite being non-US military, that you also may want to consider include the .22 LR (which is a must for any prepper), .40 S&W, .38 Special and/or .357 Magnum (for revolvers), 7.62x39mm (for AK-47s and/or SKS’s), .30-30, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Win Mag, and 20-gauge.
Now we come to the next topic at hand: magazines. If you have your battle rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammunition but no magazines, you should probably think about getting into archery.
Most guns, both rifles and pistols, come with one to three magazines with the gun when bought. Additional magazines have to be purchased separately. But how many magazines do you really need? There is no correct answer to this question, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to store at least half a dozen magazines for each of your magazine-fed weapons. This doesn’t mean that you should pack all six magazines on you when carrying your weapon. But things can happen to your magazines; you can lose them, damage them, trade/sell them, or the springs can go bad. At that point, especially if the grid is down and the stores are empty, you’d be glad you had the additional magazines in storage.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how many magazines you really need, but having at least six per weapon will ensure that you have spares in the event that other magazines go bad or are lost.