Avoid This One Critical Mistake I Made When Buying Ammo As A Prep

Here’s a lesson from the School of Hard Knocks. Sometimes buying ammo is a mistake… or at least buying the particular ammo that you put in your shopping cart is. 

I’ve made a lot of prepping mistakes over the years, and I am sharing those here in hopes that you can learn from my errors and not make the same mistakes yourself.

Perhaps the worst error I have made (and I see being made) is when preppers stockpile mostly full metal jacket (FMJ) rounds, not hollow points/self defense rounds.

I admit it, I shoot cheap steel-case ammo… I shoot A LOT of cheap steel-case ammo. When you put as many rounds downrange as we do, cost definitely becomes a factor. We have “range guns” that eat steel ammo just fine. My personal range weapon of choice is a WASR 7.62×39 bone stock AK that I don’t care if I wear out. 

Early on in my prepper shooting career, I bought the dirt-cheap milsurp FMJ rounds from Whoknowswhereistan, it was dirty and corrosive and I just didn’t care because I clean my guns after shooting them. When the supply of this ammo ended, I switched over to Tula & Wolf, which I bought by the case.

I had plenty of cases “on hand” for “in case the SHTF”, and when I did an inventory I realized that of my “main” defense caliber, nearly everything I owned was FMJ, stuff that is illegal (and a bit unethical even if we are WROL) to hunt with.

My other high powered rifles of choice are Mosins, I have several and bought several cases of surplus corrosive ammo. That surplus ammo is, you guessed it, FMJ.

That’s a problem, because of my philosophy of streamlining caliber choices. My deer rifle is a bolt-action 7.62×39, and my “other” deer rifle is a Mosin sniper rifle (original, not a hacked-together fake). 

I realized I had to fix this, so I went out and bought a couple hundred rounds of brass-cased hunting hollow points for the Mosin, and the same amount of brass-case hunting ammo for the x39 gun. 

I then started letting attrition fix this for me… as I shot up a case of Wolf or Tula FMJ, I would replace it with Wolf (which I like better) hollowpoints. 


For two reasons. First, if it comes down to it, it’s legal to hunt with hollow points in my state. Secondly, if I have to use them for self defense, hollow points are a better choice than FMJ. I am not an army, and I am therefore not bound by international law concerning ammunition types in an armed conflict.

I do not expect to point my gun at any person in anger (and I hope and pray I never have to) but if I do, I would rather have hollow points in it.

Over time, my storage ammo for my 7.62×39 rounds has mostly now become hollow points. 

We basically shoot only a few calibers as I explained in this article (CLICKY), with our main handgun caliber being 9mm.

When I checked our 9mm stocks, you will never guess what I found. About 95 percent of the rounds stored were FMJ. 


OK, well, this situation is a bit different since we go through A LOT of 9mm, and 9mm hollow points tend to be pretty expensive if  you buy them over the counter at a store.

SO… what I did was divide our 9mm into two piles, one for range work and the other storage. I used up “storage 9mm FMJ” at the range, and replaced it by the case from an online source. We use Freedom Munitions as our manufacturer of choice for 9mm (and we have a bunch of their other calibers as well). NOTE: They do not in any way support this website, nor sponsor us, we are simply happy customers.

CLICK graphic to see American Steel information from manufacturer!

The FMJ in my storage has been replaced by new-manufacture 9mm Luger 124 Gr Hornady XTP rounds.

For range ammo, I’ve been buying their American Steel 9mm 115 Gr rounds… brass coated steel case, but it shoots much cleaner than the Russian ammo and importantly it’s made in the USA. Look for a review of American Steel ammo in the future, but for now, know it’s good stuff.

Spice’s main close quarters combat weapon is a .223/5.56 Tavor X95 (CLICKY) (before that, it was a Windham AR – CLICKY). Same scenario, I had stockpiled up a bunch of FMJ (mostly brass in this case), and have now transitioned our storage ammo over to Freedom Munitions .223 55 Gr Hornady V-MAX rounds.

Obviously, your mileage will vary, but I think it’s important that pretty much all of your storage ammo should be hollow point/defensive rounds, while your shooting ammo can be something inexpensive (American Steel, one of the Russian steel brands, Winchester White Box, whatever you choose).

If you are currently FMJ heavy, the best way I can think of to fix the problem is to shoot off your FMJ a box or two at a time and replace it with HP rounds. 

Of course, you need to make sure your guns will eat the rounds you are storing, but that’s another article 🙂




  1. Well, at least you have lots of ammo……..possibly you should do a little more checking. I have lots of 762×39 hp, use it as blasting ammo. From what I’ve read, the stuff is pretty frangible, very frangible =, in fact! Would probably do great job on “varmints,” but not too good on barricaded things or vehicles! Don’t know about the HP in Moisins, SP’s would be good period. FMJ has a place, and the majority of stuff I have around is FMJ or cast lead, although I have a variety for serious social work. Just be careful of the frangible HP when it comes to hunting, as it might wound more than it kills!

  2. I’m not so sure your “mistake” is actually all that critical.
    For example, I have a 9mm pistol which I keep as my main home defense weapon. I have some hand loaded cast lead flat nose rounds for that purpose and fmj for range day or in case the S actually does HTF. On THAT day my concern for legality would be trumped by effectiveness and cost. I am not strictly a pragmatist, but the fmj WILL get the job done. FMJ, being cheap (around 20 cents per round), is good for practice. For my 9mm, penetration is key, shot placement and awareness of my surroundings are vital. So, having it around is not a mistake, not by a long shot.
    (pun intended)

  3. We also went very FMJ heavy especially storing wolf/tula steel cased in both rifle and handgun but with the glut of ammo availability we’re switching to brass cased ammunition. Currently also stocking up on Freedom Munitions 115gr XTP 9mm, 69gr & 77gr BTHP in 223 and as training/backup SHTF ammo remanufactured 9mm 115gr polymer coated RNL that I can get shipped for .15 a round. The 223 steel is being replaced by Wolf Gold, PPU and the newer Black Bear steel cased 55gr non-magnetic FMJ all in the M193 variety. For our Mosins it’s soft point ammo with and without brass cases. Using a Lee Loader as long as the case remains intact we can reload brass cases numerous times, but the Lee Loaders only really work in bolt or single shot rifles. Since it doesn’t size the entire case it can jam semi-autos. For 7.62×39 it’s the Tula 8M3 124gr HP and the soft points in 125 & 154gr weight that’s filling the emptying ammo cans. I just started buying AK ammo two months ago. Last time I bought any was in 2010. The basic wolf/tula hollow points are pretty sad performers as hollow points in nearly every ballistic gel test provided, Silver bear and golden bear soft points in 125gr are pretty good as is the 154gr soft point by Tula. The 154gr soft points is what we keep in the Home Defense/Travel Carbine.

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