Stockpiling SHTF Survival Rifle Ammunition

It was the last weekend of regular deer season, Saturday night. A long time member of the deer lease drives up to the camp, and backs his truck up to the scales. That is usually a sure sign that there is a deer in the back of the truck. They get the doe weighed and are stringing it up to skin when I walk out there.

As the skinning of the deer proceeds, there are a few of us standing around helping and watching. The topic turns to the cost of ammunition and bullet performance.

Like a lot of hunters, I tend to buy the cheapest ammo on the shelf – and that is usually Remington Core-Lokt. Over the past 14,,,, 15+ years Core-Lokt is about all that I have bought and shot deer with. During that time I have had no complaints. There is usually a hole going in and a larger hole going out.

The guy who shot the doe goes on to talk about Remington Core-Lokt and how he has since switched to Winchester softpoints. The rifle the guy used was a 270,,,, I do not remember the exact make or model. After talking for a little while, the person who shot the whitetail deer said that he has not been happy with the performance of the Remington Core-Lokt lately and that he felt it may not be expanding like it should. So he switched to the Winchester softpoints.

I can say one thing about the doe that was being skinned, there was a massive amount of bruising, bleeding and tissue damage. It was like the whole area where the bullet went through had residual damage to the surrendering tissue.

Doing a mental comparison of the deer that was shot with a 270 and Winchester softpoints, and the deer that my son took a couple of years ago with a Marlin 30-30 and Remington Core-Lokt – the 270 caused more tissue damage – both rifles were shooting 150 grain bullet. The 270 travels at a higher velocity then the 30-30, but the 30-30 is a larger in diameter bullet.

Then there is a buddy of mine that shoots a 308 and only shoots Winchester Silvertips – which can get a “little” expensive. He feels that his 308 rifle gives the best accuracy with Winchester Silvertip as compared to anything else. Let say that your rifle gives 1.2 inches groups at 100 yards with cheap ammo, and .75 inch groups at 100 yards with expensive ammo. Is the $20 dollar price difference really worth it?  If your making 400+ yard shots, then maybe .75 at 100 yards is important to you.  But for “most” people, especially in the southern part of the US were we have pine forest and thick underbrush, your shots are going to be around 100 yards or less.

The idea of stockpiling 3, 4 or even 5 different types of ammunition for 1 caliber does no appeal to me.  I do not want to have a box of Remington 150 grain, a box of Remington 180 grain, a box of Federal 150 grain, and some cheap off brand.  If price allows it, then maybe 2 or 3 different types of ammo for the same caliber – but only if there is not a big difference in the zero of those calibers.  Don’t buy one brand name that hits 2 inches different then everything else you have.

If you want to stockpile cheap target ammo and expensive hunting ammo, I suggest trial and error.  Buy a few brand names and go to the range.  Fire off a few rounds of brand A, then brand B, then brand C.  Compare the results and see which ones hit nearest each other.

22 long rifle –  My son and I are going through different brands of 22 to see which ones work well in the Marlin model 60 and the Ruger 10/22.  It does not do any good to stockpile 22 long rifle ammo that works well in only 1 rifle.  Not when you have 2 or three different 22 rifles.

During our test we have found that certain types of 22 long rifle does not work well in the marlin model 60.  With the misfires and jams, its just not worth it to stockpile stuff that does not work well.

Types of 22 long rifle being stockpiled:
Remington Golden Bullet – 525 rounds
Federal Value Pack – 550 rounds
Federal Champion Value pack – 525 rounds
Federal Auto-Match – 325 rounds
Winchester Bulk Pack – 333 rounds

22 long rifle is probably the easiest ammunition to stockpile for a SHTF situation.  22 long rifle is cheap, its light, popular, goes on sale from time to time, has a low report, no muzzle blast and is very effective on small game like rabbits.

308 Winchester

The 308 Winchester is an all around wonderful cartridge which is ideal for most medium sized game animals found in North America.

For my DS Arms SA58 FAL and my nephews Remington bolt action, at this point and time all I am stockpiling is Remington Core-Lokt 150 grain.  At $16 – $18 for a box of 20, Core-Lokt is not dirt cheap, but its not expensive either, and its very effective on deer sized game.

This past hunting season my nephew took a nice sized doe with his Remington Model 7 chambered in 308 Winchester with a 150 grain Remington Core-Lokt.  From point of impact, the doe made it about 15 feet and hit the ground.

The 308 Winchester makes an excellent survival cartridge – its lightweight, popular, easy to find, accurate, low recoil, available in a wide variety of rifles – everything from bolt actions to semi-autos.  Loaded with 150 grain soft points, the 308 Winchester should be able to take any non-dangerous game in North America.

Video of the DS Arms SA-58 FN/FAL in 308 Winchester / 7.62 NATO.

30-30 Winchester

The 30-30 Winchester has probably killed more deer than any other rifle cartridge.  Even though it is well over 100 years old, it still remains popular with deer hunters.

My family has a total of 3 Marlin 336 30-30 rifles, so its important for us to stockpile ammunition that is effective, but does not cost a fortune.

If some kind of SHTF situation happens, we want enough 30-30 stockpiled to be able to put all three rifles in the woods.  If we bought the most expensive 30-30 on the market, the amount of 30-30 we could stockpile would be limited.  Mostly what we stockpile is the Remington Core-Lokt in 150 or 170 grain – mostly 150 grain.

Monarch makes some low cost 30-30 ammunition, but I have not used the Monarch ammo to take a deer yet.  So I can not offer any first hand experience on that brand name.

Types of 30-30 being stockpiled:
Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt
Federal Fusion 150 or 170 grain
Winchester 150 or 170 grain

Due to the way the 30-30 drops, the 150 grain bullets are the main ones we stock up on.

30-06 Springfield and 270 Winchester

The same thing as everything else, for deer sized game we are stockpiling 150 grain, and mostly in Remington Core-Lokt.

There is cheaper ammunition for just about all of the above listed rifles then Remington Core-Lokt, but a lot of it is steel casing, and I can not verify the performance in deer sized game.  Until a round has proven that its effective, I see no reason to stockpile it.

Whitetail deer taken with a 270 Winchester bolt action rifle

In the 2011 – 2012 hunting season, I will probably try some other type of ammunition out besides Remington.  It would be nice to get some real world experience with how well Federal or Winchester ammunition performs.

223 Remington / 5.56mm

Stockpiling 223 for some kind of SHTF situation is a “get it as you find it” affair.  Sometimes Wolf will go on sale, sometimes Remington, sometimes Monarch.

Just about all of my 223 is a mix of Monarch and Remington white box ammunition.  Monarch is sold by academy Sports and Outdoors, so its easy to find.  When I go to the academy in Beaumont Texas, I’ll usually grab 3 – 20 round boxes of Monarch 223.  When 3 – 20 round boxes, that is 60 rounds, which is equal to 2 – 30 round magazines.

The problem is, when you start stockpiling 1,000+ rounds of ammo for 1 rifle, you better hope that rifle does not break – or you better have plenty of spare parts.


As with the 223, the 7.62X39 is the same way.  My personal stockpile of 7.62×39 is a mix of Remington white box, some Wolf, and lots of Monarch.

A couple of things about the 7.62X39 – SKS rifles are still cheaper then Ar-15s and AK-47s, the supply of 7.62X39 seems to go up and down.  Retailers might be out of stock for a few months, get a shipment in, and then be out of stock again for a couple of more months.  So if you see some 7.62X39 on the shelf, grab a few boxes while you can.