I have a confession to make. I will often get on social media and post something like, “You can’t miss fast enough to win.” or “Having lots of ammo is important only if you plan to miss a lot.” Then I merely sit back and take sadistic pleasure in the furor that I have caused. I get responses like, ”A man ought to carry as much ammo as he needs,” which is suitably vague. Or someone will reply, ”I’ve never known a gunfight survivor to say they had too much ammo,” also suitably vague and coming from someone who probably doesn’t really know a single gunfight survivor. So, let’s talk about the ammo question.
Most of us who teach personal defense suggest that — at a minimum — an armed citizen should carry a loaded gun and at least one reload. “At least” is the operative phrase. When carrying a semi-auto, that is what I do. When I carry a revolver, I have a speed loader and a speed strip, one for use when the gun runs empty and one to use for a partial reload.
The truth is that there are times and situations that may dictate the need for extra ammunition. Your community may be experiencing unrest or you may be involved in a personal conflict of some kind that has the potential for going deadly with a real potential for multiple attackers. I often would double up on what I carried when executing a narcotics search warrant or was making a felony apprehension of some kind. All of those are times when extra guns might be indicated, too.
The real mistake is to think that extra ammunition will make up for a lack of tactics. It won’t. Nor will it make up for poor marksmanship. We engage in violent encounters reluctantly and we get away from them as quickly as possible. And, we have to always keep in mind that center hits are what stop fights.
So the question of how much ammo you ought to carry does not have an easy answer. The armed citizen has to evaluate their own ability and situation. He or she must also realize that extra ammunition does not make up for lack of practice or training. Those are the real issues that the individual has to address.
So please don’t tell anyone that I post those comments on social media on purpose and enjoy the offended responses immensely. Maybe, just maybe, my comments will cause someone to stop and really evaluate their situation and set out to remedy their inadequacies.
A version of this article appeared in Shooting Illustrated.