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How to Store Enough Ammunition to Scare a Journalist



How often have you read breathless news headlines about some gun owner or another who died and left behind an “arsenal” of guns and ammunition? Do you ever skim down to the last paragraph to see how much stuff the guy had, and whether your own collection would scare the journalist more? You should; it’s fun! Thing is, we expect journalists to be ignorant of how much ammunition any given gun owner “needs” or “should” have on hand, but we gun owners don’t have the luxury of ignorance. After all, a firearm without ammo is nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

So how much ammo do you really need?

Wrong question! How much ammo do you really want? There is no right answer on how much ammo one person really needs, but at an absolute minimum there should be a 25-round box of match-grade ammo for every caliber you own. After that you may want to think about your load-out capacity. For example if you EDC with three magazines, you need enough ammo on hand to top everything off. After fulfilling the very basic needs, the sky’s the limit, and you have to start looking at the purpose for storing ammo in large quantities.

Why do you want to have large quantities of ammo?

Because you can—that’s what the Constitution says. Now let’s talk practicality.

Shooting Sports/Competition:

Anyone, regardless of skill level, can start shooting competitions. The minimums for each will be different, for example a round of skeet or trap might be 25 rounds, where shooting a IDPA pistol match might be 300 rounds in a single competition.

Unless you are a shooting savant you will need to practice. I know plenty of professional shooters who can burn through a couple thousand rounds a month! Buying in bulk or reloading your own is the only way to go. It would be impossible to keep up the pace buying one or two boxes at a time.


Cartridges that are optimized for hunting tend to be on the expensive side under any conditions, and the list of hunting calibers is quite long. During COVID, entire caliber categories disappeared from shelves—and it doesn’t take a global pandemic to cause wild fluctuations in supply and price. The more obscure your favorite caliber, the more uncertain your ability to access it online or in gun stores. Yes, it’s true that many big-game hunters will run through three rounds to zero-in and then one more to harvest their deer before they’re done for the year. For people like that, “stocking up” means 200 rounds or fewer.

Because I Want To:

Sometimes I just want to spend a day at the range punching holes in paper and tin cans, and I don’t want to have to stop to go to the store. Then there’s the fact that, like precious metals, ammunition has its own inherent value and could be a barter good during a financial crisis. Some friends collect silver, I collect ammo. I think I would have better luck bartering a box of ammo for food/help/medicine etc.

Johnny Law

I hate to even have to mention this, but not everyone lives in a free state like Alabama. If you live in a restrictive state, you really need to check out the local laws and regulations. You may have limits on the amount of ammo you are allowed to have or storage limits. You might even be required to keep the ammo locked up “inaccessible.”

How do you store ammo?

The ideal way to store ammo is in a sealed airtight dry container. That is also one of the most impractical ways, unless you buy military surplus battle packs that are resealed. In reality a cool dry area—the same place you would keep most valuables—is attainable by most shooters.

The goal is to make sure that the ammo stays dry and does not start to corrode or tarnish. This is especially important for steel case ammo that will rust quickly. If you do get some tarnished ammo with discoloration I have had success running it through a brass tumbler, same as I clean cases for reloading.

What can you store ammo in?

The more your storage area is not climate controlled the more it is important to remove ammo from cardboard boxes. Cardboard can retain moisture from the air and moisture can contribute to corrosion. Paper boxes are the worst for storing large quantities of ammo unless you buy full cases. The boxes can only be stacked so high until they deform.

I have friends who love using vacuum sealed bags for ammo storage. Amazon has plenty of low-cost vacuum sealers and supplies for cheap. Add in some rust inhibitors or desiccant packs and you have a nice waterproof solution.

The tried-and-true metal military ammo can is a great solution to hold a bunch of bulk ammo, especially if you just dump in the loose rounds. The bonus is that they stack neatly and will protect the ammo from abuse. The downside is that the cans can rust—you must not store them directly on concrete. I have seen them rust out of the bottom. Make sure to label each can! Trust me, it sucks having to open dozens of cans looking for something specific.

The modern plastic ammo cans from companies like MTM Case-Gard are some of my favorite storage methods. It’s true that the plastic is not as tough as a metal can, but it won’t rust, so it’s a good tradeoff. Just use common sense and don’t shot-put them across the yard. No matter what type of ammo can you use, make sure the seal is in good condition and use rust inhibitors or desiccant packs—they are your moisture-fighting friends.

For more short-term storage or transportation I use ammo transportation sacs. I have used a couple different brands including the G-Code Bang Box, Cloud Defense Ammo Storage Bag, and the Savior Equipment Loose Sacs. Think of super tough nylon or canvas container bags. You dump your ammo out of the box into the pouches. Each have handles that you can easily scoop and take to the range.

No matter how you decide to store your ammo, you need to think about how long you intend to store this ammo. Are we talking a year, a decade, or do you plan on passing this down to the next generation? This dictates how you must store your ammo. The longer you want it to last, the more careful you must be about the container and the climate control. The more you can control the climate in the storage area the better. Cool and dry is the best.

What are your favorite ammo storage tips and tricks? What are your favorite containers? Let me know what you think.

James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional Himself!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kenny

    March 25, 2024 at 5:45 pm

    I store ammo in plastic and metal ammo cans and then put them in styrofoam coolers with tight fitting lids all in a closet the coolers come with steaks in them from Omaha Steaks

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