Don't forget to check out ALL of my Last Man On Earth Studies posts!
Checking your Guns for Feeding Problems
Emergency Bags for Automobiles
Commonality: How to Be Efficient
If you were to ask 10 people that you consider "preppers" what all they have been stocking up on, what would be the #1 item listed?
Ammo. It won't even be close, either. I'd venture to say that 9 out of 10 preppers would list stocking up on ammo as their #1 priority.
In case you have been living under a rock in the last year...go try and buy ammo from a box store and report back. In case you didn't know and don't want to experience the aggravation, allow me to tell you what you will find.
If you can find 9mm, .45, .40, .223/5.56mm, 7.62, etc...you will be limited to 1 box. That box WON'T be a box of 100 rounds, either. It will most likely be a box of 20. And, it won't be cheap.
Not only is ammo hard to come by, but the prices are flat out outrageous. I remember when I first started shooting for fun WAY back in 2008. .45ACP was about $12.99 for a 50 round box of Blazer Brass. That same exact box will now cost you $26. And, again, you will only get 1 box.
Yet fear and speculation, fed by this relative shortage, has caused preppers and non-preppers alike to flock to the stores in droves to clean out shelves of ammo. It is the perfect storm for everyone but the consumer and...until it drives everyone broke or it becomes illegal to buy guns and ammo..it will continue as a self replicating problem.
I like to consider myself a rationale person. While I still like to shoot and I do try to buy ammo when I can, I started thinking to myself...."self, what ELSE can you be stocking up on?" How can I proceed with my hobby but still be reasonable and buy something usefull?
The answer didn't immediately come to me. In fact, it took several unrelated things to happen by coincidence.
The first thing that happened was, I was repairing something in the house and I needed several wood screws. So, I go to the garage to look for screws. All I had was machine screws. They have way to fine a thread for wood. Ok. So, I don't have any screws. What about some nails? So, I started looking around. No nails. I went to Dollar General. Nothing. Then Fred's. Nothing. So, I resorted to going to Lowe's.
Later on that evening, I was watching an old Western. I don't recall what it was. But, there is a scene where the protagonist goes into a sundry/hardware store and lays out a shopping list of items he will need to make it on the American Frontier. Sure, the first items of importance were: Ammo. Food. Clothes. And then they said something that hit home. They bought a 10 pound bag of 16 penny nails.
At first I was thinking: "Wow. That's a lot of weight! Think of all the guns and food you could carry! Why on earth would you need that many fasteners?"
Stupid question, when you really get down to it, isn't it?
When we consider the 3 aspects of life: food, protection, and shelter....we make some pretty large assumptions about that last. What assumptions? Well, that there will always be existing shelter and it will never need to be repaired or modified. As long as we have a lot of food or a lot of ammo, we should have everything we need to survive. Right?
But let's consider true homesteading, regardless of what you think about EOTWAWKI and if it will happen, which I would love to do one day. Need a house? You have to build it. That requires nails and screws. Need to repair it? You need nails and screws. You want to build a fence to hold your lifestock? You need nails and screws. You want to build a barn? Shelves? ANYTHING? You will need nails and screws. And it isn't smart to wait until the EOTWAWKI to go in search of them.
90% of the preppers can tell you, down to the 10s, on how much ammo they really have..and it is usually in the thousands, think of how many nails you would also need. It would be in the thousands as well. Maybe 10s of thousands.
I have, many times, said "what's the reality that you are really going to need 10,000 rounds of ammo in your life?" Even in the worst conditions ever, where you have to defend yourself constantly...how many rounds do you REALLY need. What's the likelihood that you would ever use that many? Now, take a step back and think about how many nails and screws you will need for a lifetime of homesteading.
There is a great upside to buying nails and scews of all types and in large quantities as one of your prepping strategies. Let's face it...it's fun to buy ammo. It makes you feel safe. But how useful is it to you, in your every day survival? Will it ultimately pay dividends? Perhaps the most important question is...IF you could find it today, could you afford it? Could you afford to be without it?
Fasteners, on the other hand, are plentiful at any hardware store. You WILL need them, not matter what the scope of your post-EOTWAWKI strategy may be. They are affordable and you will always have a use for them EOTWAWKI or not. Just look at the example I posted about earlier. I had a small project to do and I had to take time out of my day to go to the store and buy them. That was pretty inefficient. I have a house in the suburbs, essentially, but I have certainly seen multiple jobs where I needed fasteners. Now, think about maintaining that homestead. Do you want to have to run in to the box stores after the EOTWAWKI to get it? What would they be worth then? Your life? Someone else's? What are you willing to pay for it when they become essential commodities? Your first fruits? Your first calf for a box?
Or you could just buy a box or two for $5 every trip to Lowe's and avoid the hassle.