Stay Stocked for Home Defense: Guide to Buying Ammo

firearm on table

When was the last time you bought bullets for your firearm? With millions of Americans staying at home, legal firearm owners are stocking up on gun ammo. Sales for guns and ammo interestingly soared since the onset of the pandemic.

This is a clear sign of people upping the ante in terms of protecting their homes. They are beefing up their security against break-ins and intruders. 

But buying ammo is not as simple as you may think. If it is your first time to buy bullets, it is wise to follow a buying ammo guide. This will keep you from wasting your money on the wrong ammo.

It will also protect you from potential accidents especially during pressure-packed situations. But how exactly do you buy ammo? What are the key factors to consider?

Continue reading below for the answers.

Understand the Specs of Your Gun

To kick-off our ammo guide, let us first discuss the most important element of the matter: your firearm. Sure, it is your bullets that you will fire, but it is your gun that is the vessel that lets you shoot your ammunition.

Hence, the first thing to do before buying ammo is to understand the specs of your gun. This is crucial since you want to match your gun with the appropriate ammo. Moreover, using the correct ammunition is one of the cardinal rules of firearm safety.

First, get the size and caliber of your gun. If you have a pistol, check the frame of the barrel and look for the stamping of the caliber. Examples of these markings include .38 SPCL, 9mm, and .45 ACP.

List the markings that you will see for reference. You will use these later, as you match them with the caliber of ammo that you will see on the ammo box. 

If you’re using a shotgun, the labeling of the ammo differs. Instead of caliber, the manufacturers use “gauges.” This pertains to the shotgun bore’s diameter.

Determine Your Purpose

The next factor to consider when buying ammo is your purpose. What is your primary reason for buying ammo? Since we are talking about stocking up on bullets for self-defense purposes, let us first go through ammo options that serve such purpose.

For self-defense, you want to buy ammo that offers remarkable stopping power. Your want your bullets to incapacitate your targets so you can end the threat as early as you can. This means you want to buy ammo that causes the most damage possible.

If you have a rifle or a pistol like the STI Staccato 2011, invest in hollow point bullets. These bullets expand upon contact with your target. In turn, they leave larger wounds without penetrating through and through the body.

If you own a shotgun, you want to get some buckshot rounds. These are pellets that are larger than the average birdshot. Because of their bigger size, they cause more damage but also do not over-penetrate.

If you want to expand your stash of ammo for target practice, roughly any type of bullet should be good for the firing range. You will only shoot those bullets through pieces of paper so any kind of bullet should get you by.

But still, some stand out from the rest. For target practicing, go for full-metal jacket (FMJ) bullets. FMJ bullets are relatively cheap but perform remarkably on the firing range.

Know Where to Buy

Now that you have an idea of the type of ammo to purchase, your next goal is to find the right sources. Where exactly can you buy good ammo?

For starters, you can troop to your nearest retail stores. Walmart, for example, has outlets with guns and ammo sections. However, their selections are quite limited. 

Furthermore, their prices may be a bit higher than what you will see if you buy from a guns and ammo shop. Hence, to expand your choices, it is best to drive to the nearest sporting goods store. 

Apart from having wider selections of ammo, sporting goods stores also offer them at competitive prices. Also, the guys at the counter will likely have more knowledge about the ammo compared to those at Walmart. 

But if you don’t want to risk going out at this time of the pandemic, you can always buy ammo from reputable online sellers. There are popular online shops like MidwayUSA, Ammo-to-Go, and Cheaper Than Dirt that offer ammo in different calibers and weights.

Sometimes, these stores accept wholesale or bulk orders. This means you can get your bullets at more affordable prices.

Last but not least, you can join gun shows to find some of the best ammo deals available. These events attract some of the biggest gun enthusiasts in the country. These people are also some of the best sources for good ammo.

But when buying ammo during gun shows, it is wise to go for reloads instead of new ones.

Compare the Prices

And speaking of prices, you should compare the price tags of different sources. Whether you’re looking to buy online or from a brick-and-mortar store, you should have at least three options to choose from.

The good thing about buying ammo online is that you can get a little help from price-comparison tools. There are online ammo search engines like Wikiarms, Ammoseek, and Ammograb that can point you to the cheapest sources.

All you need is to input the type of ammo that you need and the search engines will do the rest. They can search for local Walmart outlets that offer the type of bullets you are looking for. They will also post the prices and special deals if any.

Keep in mind that it is not always best to go for the cheapest one. Always consider the other factors and not just the prices.

Give Them a Try

When buying ammo for the first time, always give them a try before purchasing. Get a few rounds of ammo for testing purposes. What you want is to ensure that the bullets perform well with your gun.

There are times when the bullets shoot dirty. Sometimes, they do not give you that optimal feel you are looking for when firing. 

Always try a few rounds before getting a stockpile.

Learn About Gun Laws and Bureaucracy

As a responsible gun owner, it is paramount that you learn about gun laws and bureaucracy. Gun laws may differ depending on which state you live in. For example, California is one of the strictest in the country when it comes to gun laws. 

You cannot buy ammo from unlicensed sources. Moreover, ammo sellers must document all ammo transactions. Additionally, you will have to undergo background checks before you can get your bullets.

If you’re from Illinois, you need to be at least 21 years old before you can buy ammo. Furthermore, you should secure a Firearm Owner’s ID before you can buy ammo online.

Meanwhile, Connecticut requires more than a government ID. You should also provide a pistol permit, an eligibility certificate, or an ammunition certificate.

Check out this list for more information on ammunition regulation for every state.

Proper Ammo Storage

Last but not least, part of buying ammo is learning how to store them properly. The primary rule in proper ammo storage is to keep them high and dry. This means storing them away from the ground and keeping them away from moisture.

Since moisture will still find its way regardless of where you live, it is best to invest in some ammo cans. Also, avoid keeping your ammo in areas that attract moisture. These are areas like steam rooms, laundry rooms, and the like.

As for the ideal temperature, you want to keep your bullets cool. Don’t expose your bullets to temperatures reaching 150 Fahrenheit. Once the heat reaches this level, humidity enters the picture. 

In turn, the humidity will create moisture that will lead to corrosion of your ammo.

You also want to keep your bullets fresh as much as possible. This means exposing and holding them only when you are about to use them. Thus, apply the “first in, first out” rule.

Place some labels outside the ammo cans. The labels should indicate the date you purchased the bullets. This way, you will know which set of ammo to use first. 

Last but not least, learn how to organize your ammo. Group them according to their purpose. Separate your training ammo from your service loads.

You may even buy containers in different colors. The colors can guide you quickly as to which type of bullets they contain.

Go Beyond Our Ammo Guide

By taking to heart the lessons of our ammo guide, you can get the best ammo that will best suit your requirements. By using the right set of bullets, you can ensure their performance and safety when the need arises. But there is more to learn about firearms than buying ammo.

We invite you to check our other articles on firearms. Expand your knowledge and become the best gun owner you can be.