In the epic fluctuations that the supply and demand market on ammunition has brought us in the past few years, one must take a step back and ask yourself the hard question. Shed light on the shadows, pull out the man behind the curtain, and talk to that elephant in the room. Just how much is enough?
Well, Mr Owl, let's find out.
The One Year Rule of thumb
If you own a firearm that is anything but a wallhanger, you really should have at least a one-year supply of fodder for it. Now one person's idea of a year may vary widely from the next. Ask yourself not how much you shoot your firearm, but rather how much you would like to shoot if all the stars lined up.
For hunting rifles and shotguns that you do not shoot at the range regularly, a couple boxes to ensure your pattern is good (on a scatter gun) or your scope is still zeroed (on your rifle) plus whatever you plan to use in a year of hunting is the minimum. For plinking guns, such as that favorite little Ruger 10/22, your Beretta Neos, or Marlin Camp Carbine, do the math and multiply how often you would like to go in a year by how many rounds you typically shoot through said fun gun. You need to stock at least this much ammo.
Then there are the needs of the firearms that you depend on for your family's protection.
In 2000, just before the 9/11 and the Global War on Terrorism shot the demand for ammunition up by some 500 percent, the US Army used right at 205-million rounds of 5.56mm ammunition to train the 474,000 active duty and 301,140 National Guardsmen on Uncle's payroll. This breaks down to about 250 rounds per soldier per year to accomplish the minimum amount of training. Of course, active duty SF units will shoot far more per solider than will a reserve water purification unit, but you get the point.
In law enforcement terms, most departments shoot a 50-round qualification course quarterly in daylight conditions and at least one additional course under low-light conditions. This breaks down to about 250 rounds per officer per year to accomplish the minimum amount of training. Of course, many departments shoot more than this-- but some tragically shoot far less.
If you plan to use a firearm for defensive purposes and are not shooting 250 rounds per year in regulated practice, you are failing to meet the minimum. With that in mind, you need this amount of ammunition on hand for a year's training to stay sharp.
This is over and beyond what you have on hand for...
It's a funny world and your never know what could happen. Even if you discount fantasy such as zombie outbreaks (shameless plug), Red Dawn, and invasions by MS13 drug dealers, there is still the ever-present specter of civil unrest.
In just the past two decades, we have seen the lawlessness that followed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the LA Riots, "The Battle in Seattle," Ferguson, Baltimore...
I survived Katrina at ground zero and the ominous law enforcement vacuum left behind after it. Sitting in the dark with your family, huddled around a radio listening to the rest of the world seemingly move on, nothing chills your blood flowing like the sound of random and unexplained gunshots in the distance.
You don't want to get caught in circumstances beyond your control with empty ammo cans. If the crises of the past decade tells us anything, it is that you cannot depend on being able to go to your local big box if the going gets tough and find what you need. Others will have long ago beat you too it.
For these unseen events, a second year's supply of ammunition is a good hedge, and maybe a third for trading. The term ballistic wampum wasn't coined during this crisis, but the effects of it are being seen firsthand. I've seen people make downright obscene deals for bricks of 22LR in the past few years.
Personally, I like to have enough ammo on hand to make furniture out of it. But hey, your mileage may vary.
As the motto goes, Paratus et duro (Prepare and Endure).