What Constitutes a Lot of Ammunition?

The press is currently having a fit because 200 rounds of ammunition were found in a bag in a parking structure in Germany. Some of the stories are calm, but some are trying to make it sound like a lot of ammo. So is it?

A box of 22 long rifle ammunition is usually 500 or 550 rounds – unless you are after the really expensive match grade stuff. Is that a lot? That 550 rounds is in a box about the size of a can of soda.

Not quite at random, I pulled up the prices for 5.56 NATO ammo (Green Tip, which is one of the standard military issue rounds) at Ammunition Depot. A box of 20 rounds is $7.57 which is 38 cents per round. If you buy 120 rounds, for $41.87 the price drops to 35 cents per round, they come packed in a nice “mini-plastic ammo can” (well how nice that can really is could be debated), and you are eligible for a $6 per-can mail-in rebate, which drops the price farther, if adding the hassle of getting the form in the mail. If you buy a case of 1000 rounds, for $335.40 the per-round price drops to 33 cents.

I don’t shoot 3-gun (a competition which would probably involve this kind of ammo) so I don’t know how many rounds per month an active competitor would shoot. I do know that active pistol competitors can shoot a 1000 rounds of pistol ammunition every month. Or more. And a few cents difference in the per-round price can add up quickly. I would hazard a guess that a 3-gun competitor would shoot at least 1000 rounds per year.

I’m not sure it was at Ammunition Depot, but the largest box of ammo I can remember seeing for sale is 8000 rounds. (I don’t remember if that was for rifle or pistol ammo.) And actually that would probably have to shipped as several smaller boxes to get under the weight limit of what you can reasonably expect a delivery driver to lift. (Shipping for ammo is almost never free. Lead is heavy after all.) Though unless you are supplying ammo for a club event, I’m not sure why that quantity would make sense. The price doesn’t usually go down if the quantity is above 1000 rounds.

Whenever there is something like the ammo found in Germany, the press – who hate guns, gun owners and all things related – usually try to make the amount of ammunition seem like a mountain, even when it is literally more likely to be the size of a molehill.

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