National Security

Prepared or Paranoia: How Much is Enough?

By Chris Wagoner:

I am what you might call a closet “prepper.” I believe in being prepared for most situations and hate being caught unprepared or ill-equipped to handle them. So I have a confession to make—I may have more ammo than I currently need. How much ammunition is “enough” for someone to have? What do you consider enough? Well, let’s discuss my reasoning, how much is enough, and how much is “hoarding” without reason.

I took up the hobby of loading my own ammunition some years ago. Notice I did not call it “reloading,” because the only part of the round that is reused is the brass or nickel case. The rest is, of course, new materials. And in the case of my ammunition that I carry for self-defense, I use new brass also. There are only four components to the average handgun or rifle round: a primer, gunpowder, bullet, and case or “brass” to hold it all together. They are normally put together on something called a reloading press. I originally took up reloading because the cost of ammunition seemed to be outrageous to me. And shooting as much as I do—several times a week at least—it seemed like the way to save money.

Little did I know that I was opening Pandora’s box and beginning a journey that would teach me more about firearms than I knew previously, as well as a whole lot more about ammunition, how it works, and what makes it accurate. I started out by doing what I normally do when I am starting something new—I read as much as I could about it and watched videos on the internet. I asked friends if anyone else did it, and lucky for me, one of my best friends had done it in the past and had the equipment sitting unused in his garage. So I borrowed it to try it out. And that was it; I was hooked. There is something about producing your own ammunition and then shooting it that is very satisfying. Especially when your ammunition performs better and is more reliable than factory ammunition.

So after trying it out and learning by doing, I was hooked and bought what is a called a progressive press. I bought the Hornady AP press, which allows you to do several steps at one time. And that’s when I started to learn more about the details of ammunition and what differences shapes and weights and things make. But one thing I learned when I first started shooting more than 45 years ago is that the thing you put in a firearm is not a “bullet”; bullets are part of a “round.” The round is the complete product. The bullet is the part that comes out of the end of the gun and is propelled by the gunpowder after being ignited by the primer.

I started out making my own .223 rifle rounds. It was pretty simple, and the “recipes” for various bullet types and parts were readily available. After making my first mistakes and ruining a few cases, among other things, I got the hang of it pretty quickly. And that’s when I got hooked. When it got easy and I felt confident, I started to make more and more. I thought that I would store some ammunition up so I didn’t have to make it so often. But for some reason, I started to think, what if I couldn’t get ammunition anymore?

I am NOT one of those apocalyptic preppers—or at least I didn’t think I was. Then, during a particularly dicey period of political turmoil, I thought that maybe the government was heading in the direction of outlawing much of the firearms world. So I started to stockpile components and completed rounds. Then I thought, what if something happened like a natural disaster, solar flare, or terrorist attack and we were dependent on ourselves for a while? How would I provide for my family’s safety? So I stockpiled a little more. That’s when it became an obsession. I reloaded more and more ammunition and branched off into other calibers of firearms I own. I bought storage containers, ammo cans, and further ways of storing ammunition. I would go out into my garage (my loading area) and load ammunition for hours, and I found it quite a relaxing time to think.

I eventually got to where I had loaded and stored several thousand rounds of each caliber I have firearms for. I have thousands of .45 in various types, from practice rounds (FMJ) to EDC (everyday carry) in JHP (jacketed hollow point) rounds. I have loaded .223 ammunition tens of thousands of times and stored it in various places in my home and elsewhere. I have created a vehicle bugout bag, and it’s in a backpack that I can carry if I need to leave my vehicle in an emergency for any reason. I then got into loading for my precision long distance rifle (Ruger Precision Rifle in .308), and that’s when I learned about BC (ballistic coefficient) and what a difference the shape of the bullet makes. So when I ran out of storage containers and places to put my work, I began to realize—how much ammunition is enough? How much do you need to be “prepared” for whatever is to come, if anything?

So now I load ammunition for specific purposes, like hunting rounds, self-defense rounds, and practice rounds. I load more than I need, but store the rest away “just in case.” Some would call me odd, some maybe paranoid, others just plain crazy. But I honestly don’t think I am any of those; I think I am cautious and prudent with my family’s safety and security. It does not end with just ammunition, but it’s a darn good start. With all of the rioting going on in the country, and even some in my home town, I feel a bit better knowing that should things break down, I will have enough ammunition to defend my family from most threats. Firearms are fine, but without something to shoot out of them, they are just metal clubs.

So if you are interested in learning about loading ammunition (it’s not nearly as dangerous as you think), I suggest you go out and watch some videos, read some books, and ask your friends that load ammunition. Then give it a try, but be very careful that you do not become addicted like I have. If you do, you may never have to buy another box of factory-made ammunition again, and all of your shooting friends will start to ask you to load ammunition for them or sell them some of your own. But of course, that would mean having to dig into your stockpile, and as I have explained above, you can never have enough ammunition.

To learn more about loading ammunition, you can watch this simple tutorial that explains the process.

Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance Military Reporter and owner/founder of the Largest Military Videos Channel on YouTube “3rdID8487”.

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Chris Wagoner

Chris Wagoner is a U.S. Army Veteran and has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".

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