A lot of careful consideration and planning needs to be done in order to make sure you are ready for surviving a long-term calamity. One area of attention is the type of combat ammunition you will purchase for stockpiling.
Recent technological advances in ammunition of all types and calibers have been astounding, particularly in the area of defensive loads for pistols and rifles—most of which have been tested against the FBI’s ballistic gelatin/barrier protocols.
The only problem with premium defensive ammo is a hefty price tag compared to ball or plain lead ammo. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t afford to stockpile copious amounts of premium defensive and tactical ammo. The good news is that I don’t need to. Ball ammo will be fine for what may come. All of the wars in the last century and the present have been fought with ball ammo almost exclusively, and the millions of military and civilian dead on all sides prove its effectiveness.
Ball ammo actually possesses several advantages over the best premium loads in addition to cost savings:
1. Ball is easy to acquire in bulk. Depending on the special, they are often sold in quality military type ammo cans making it easier to transport, or sealed in the “sardine can” format which makes it easier to store long term.
2. Ball does have greater penetration than premium defensive and exotic loads. In for civilian self-defense or LE applications, the use of premium defensive loads is a must under most circumstances. We want and need penetration to be limited. In a calamity situation, your ammo may very well need to perforate vehicles or other hard obstacles you encounter while moving to a safer area (a .30-06 ball in a M1 Garand works great for that), or when vehicles have invaded your property and are in formation against you. If there is a mob of people coming to harm my family, I want my shots to count for more than one per customer if you get my drift.
3. Quality ball ammo is ultimately the most reliably functioning ammo. It is what every modern semi-automatic weapons system, rifle or handgun designed for defense or combat was designed to run on. Premium defensive ammo was developed long after the design any of the current weapons or their operating systems. If you are pondering the purchase of an AR-15, get it with a 1-in-9 inch barrel twist rate. It handles both 55 and 62-grain ball very well.
Well-placed rounds of ball will work especially well in handguns and rifles when launched in multiples of one. When purchasing ball rifle and handgun ammo, be wary of using steel case ammo in anything but an AK-47. Don’t use corrosive primer ammo in anything. The 5.56mm steel case ammo mostly functions, but the AR was designed to run on brass, not steel case ammo, and prolonged use can result in unnecessary extractor wear. Also, some of the Russian steel case 5.56 ammo produces more visible smoke and carbon fouling than higher quality brass case U.S. made ammo. The last thing that an AR needs is an extra charge of carbon blown back into the bolt carrier with each shot. Of course, steel case ammo also rusts. Hornady and other makers “wash” their cases with zinc to help delay rust, but after boxes are opened, the zinc case develops a nasty white powder coating on it, even in controlled storage.
Some of the Russian brands use polymer or lacquer coatings on their cases to prevent rust and some of those will begin to gunk up a hot action during prolonged rapid firing. Effects on the looser tolerance AK-47 will be of lesser concern. Your survival guns may need to last a long time without attention from a gunsmith, so be attentive to what type of ammo you feed it.
One last cautionary word. Stay away from “Zombie Killer” type ammunition for your defensive needs. If you need to make a defensive use of a firearm under current conditions, and you keep it loaded with ammo labeled as such, you will be made to look like an idiot in front of a court or grand jury, or worse yet, made to look like a deranged psychopath whose ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is in question. Such ammo is for fun use. If you want to play or compete with it, fine. Just don’t let it find its way into your defensive armament.
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About the Author: Scott Wagner is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Currently a police sergeant in Baltimore, Ohio, he spent 20 years with the Union County Ohio Sheriff's Office as a Reserve Deputy where he worked patrol, training and SWAT, and was the assistant SWAT team leader and a team sniper. Wagner has been a state-certified police firearms, fitness and defensive tactics instructor for 26 years, and has been a criminal justice professor and police academy commander for 20 years at a community college in the Midwest.He is the author of the Gun Digest books, "Tactical Shotguns,", "Own the Night—A Guide to Tactical Lights and Laser Sights," and Survival Guns.
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