Best caliber weapon for apocalypse scrounging

If society collapses. And the ammo factories are idle. What caliber weapon would you want to have, to be able to scrounge the most ammo?
I am thinking long barrel preference. But is there a particular ammo that has both pistol and long gun compatibility if you have the right guns?
Quantity, not quality. What is the ammo that you would find in most quantity on the shelves. Maybe in armories too.

Oh. Forgot. Separate categories. Bullets and shotgun shells. What is most common shotgun shell as well?

There is no known kitchen procedure to make rim fire ammo. But you can still buy it cheap now. And if SHTF, some people say it will become an exchange medium, like gold.

As to military ammo, it’s not likely that you and your brother-in-law will be able to knock off the local ammo dump.

What ammo you will use you either own, or acquired through trade.

And volume might not be such a big thing in a long-term apocalypse environment if your primary goal is to stay away from trouble and not look for it. More important is shelf life and reliability. Case-in-point: Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army waged a guerrilla war from 1944 to 1974 with only around 200 rounds of rifle ammo. He was killing Filipino soldiers and policemen well into the 70s.

Any shotgun.

Brass wears out. You can only reload a case so many times before it is genuinely dangerous to fire again. Shotgun shells will last hundreds of times longer than a rifle cartridge because the pressure is lower and the portion that wears the most, the front rim, is easily replaced with commonly available materials.

The bigger problem is primers. They can be made by a home chemist but the ingredients will be VERY hard to come by. Thus a second point in the shotguns favor- a standard double barrel or pump shotgun can be converted with very little time and effort into a serviceable flintlock musket.

Beyond that, a 12 gauge is suitable with the right loads for all types of game as well as self defense. A pump or double barrel can go for longer without cleaning than the vast majority of guns, most parts are easy to replace, and even with rifled barrels, don’t wear quickly. Ammunition is available literally anywhere ammunition is sold in most countries around the world, and fairly cheaply.

without really having a solid handle on things, because I try to avoid too close association…

I think the standard ‘prepper’ rounds are 5.56 that go with the common AR-15 type platforms.

I don’t think there is round determined as best for rifle and handgun, though I’ve seen a few long guns that take the common 9mm luger round. Doesn’t KelTech make a rifle that even uses standard Glock pistol magazines? So that might be an option. Same rounds and same magazines.

.22LR is pretty good in that it is used universally in pistols as well as rifles.

12 gauge for shotgun, no question for general purpose

I was told at some point the most appropriate home armory would be to have

  1. a pistol like a 9mm or larger
  2. a .22 rifle
  3. a larger caliber rifle for bigger targets
  4. a 12 gauge shotgun
    I don’t know any of this for sure and don’t have any real knowledge or possession of firearms as I lost all of mine when they broke through the ice on some frozen lake a couple of years ago.

The region you are in, and thus the types of big game hunted may affect the answer to this question. In the western US, big game hunters take game at much longer ranges than their eastern counterparts. That will lead to a market for long range flat shooting ammo like .270. In most places on the east coast, 400+ yard shots are all but non-existent, and there is no game decidedly needing a caliber starting with a 4, so familiarity and market demand for those isn’t as high so .30-06 and .30-30 are more popular, thus more available.

During a discussion I was privy to in hunting camp one night, the merits of rifle caliber came up. The generally agreed consensus was that in the event you left your ammo at home, the easiest ammo to find in stores was .30-06 based on the opinions of a dozen deer hunters – though you know what liars we can be :slight_smile:

Shotguns - 12 definitely. As the owner of a 16 gauge, it can be hard to find shells now, but 12s are everywhere.

I’ve never reloaded shotgun, but I like that suggestion; you could probably go old-school and use paper tubes if needed.

I have a Beretta CX-4 carbine in 9mm, as well as several 9mm pistols (there are .40 and .45 variants as well), so something like that (including Kel-tec and Hi-Point) would work as pistol/rifle calibers. You’re not going to take down a grizzly with it, but the carbines take the effective range out to a hundred yards or so.

And maybe for the really long term - a muzzle loading flintlock.

Unless you have a good stock of black powder, not so good as it will be hard to get IMO.

Using modern powders is a dicey deal.

Would muzzle-loader-quality black powder be practical to make, either from raw materials (sulfur, saltpeter, etc) or by synthesizing from other available materials (fertilizer, maybe)?

This is cool (speaking as someone who only barely knows the engineering). Flintlocks, as a hazy image, hold a deep place in the hearts of Americans simply by historical association. It would make for a good plot device.

Better in a post-apocalyptic world in which the survivors fight survivor Commies or terrorists.

These calibers will be useful for scrounging ammo:

22 long rifle: Very, very common, so easy to find. Added benefit is that bullets are tiny so you can carry and store more of these than any other caliber. Much, much more. And they are about the cheapest of all ammo to buy. They are good for small game but they are also lethal enough to disable and kill humans. Can be used in rifles and pistols.

357 magnum: A 357 pistol will also fire 38 ammo. So with this weapon you have two very common types of ammo you can scrounge and use it for one gun. Also, to make it easy on you is that you can get ‘lever action rifles’ that also shoot 357 and these rifles are about the lightest weight rifle you can possibly get and also they are very reliable. This is not the best rifle ammo but it will do.

223 ammo which is used by the US military. This caliber is common in the US and tons and tons of it gets sold as surplus so it is fairly cheap compared to most other rifle calibers. The rifle to get is a Ruger Mini 14. This rifle is as reliable and durable as you can possibly get in it’s caliber range and is fairly lightweight for carrying. Also, parts for this very common rifle should be easier to scrounge than most any other rifles. This military style rifle is excellent for self defense.

12 gauge shotgun is the most common size of all shotgun ammo and will be your best bet for scrounging shotgun ammo. The shotgun has a very wide range of ammo types so it can be used for hunting the smallest of animals up to the largest.

9mm pistol ammo is also very common. No so great for anything but shooting people. Like the 357 mentioned above this can also be found in lever action rifles. But I consider this an inferior caliber to 357 for the purpose you seek.

You didn’t ask but I’ll mention that for ease of maintenance and ruggedness and reliability that revolvers are superior to automatic pistols.

I hate loading a revolver when I’m back pedaling from zombies, or running from Russians. :slight_smile:

The recipe for black powder is fairly well known. It would take a bit of practice to come up with a reliable mixture, and you’ll need to come up with a way of making more-or-less uniform grains. (Mixing with alcohol, pressing through a screen, and letting it dry?)

Might be of limited utility unless you can make percussion caps, as flintlocks tend not to be repeaters. If you can make percussion caps, you might reload rounds for lever-action repeaters.

In the U.K. where guns are not plentiful a cross bow and a hunting bow, they are both silent and you can retrieve both bolts and arrows for future use

I wonder how many bolts Darryl reuses on The Walking Dead.

.22LR, for sure. I might even advocate for keeping a supply of .22 CBs or .22 subsonic, because they have enough zip to take squirrels and rabbits and they are quiet enough (in a long barreled gun) to not give away the fact that you are out there taking game.
Airguns would also have a place for scavenging game without drawing attention.

Yes, and you could fire various projectiles.
Would will they take down a walker? :dubious:

In a SHTF scenario, I am sure that 9mm, .223 and 12 Gauge shotgun shells would likely be the most common to find.

Supreme irony: ammo stocks expended in battles over ammo stocks. :stuck_out_tongue:

You’ve answered question IMHO.