PICK THE PROPER PROJECTILES
An ammo assortment for now until the end of the world
More than any other human contrivance, it is the handheld firearm that has most profoundly shaped the affairs of men. Nukes sit in their silos until they are retired, and smart bombs make for sexy headlines. Nevertheless, it is the humble gun that truly changes the world. There are literally thousands of disparate calibers and bullet weights to feed the roughly 875 million firearms on the planet. However, all that ammo can be separated into three broad, informal categories.
These are steel-cased rounds you buy in bulk. Tulammo and Wolf have been the major players in the past, although Winchester now makes some absolutely splendid steel-cased 9mm that costs about what the imported stuff might. The Winchester product is called Forged, and it uses the same nice FMJ bullets, clean-burning powder and top-notch primers as Winchester White Box bulk pack. Blasting bullets are for training and fun. The details of precision and tidiness really don’t matter all that much. You just want them to shoot fairly straight and go bang! every time you squeeze the trigger. Steel cases run just fine; and, with the singular exception of a .223 precision rifle in my collection, I have never had function or performance problems through many tens of thousands of rounds. You can police the casings with a magnet or simply leave them where they lie. The preponderance of the Earth’s molten core comprises iron. It’s not as if we will run out of the stuff any time soon. Steel corrodes readily in the presence of oxygen. Leave steel cases exposed to the weather on
THE ACTUAL BULLETS IN YOUR SOCIAL AMMO EMBODY MORE TECHNOLOGY THAN DOES YOUR SMART PHONE. THEY ARE DESIGNED TO CONTORT INTO THE MOST EGREGIOUS CONFIGURATIONS ONCE THEY CONTACT SOMETHING SOFT, WET AND WARM.
your range even a few days when the climate is damp. and they will begin to degrade. This same property makes them a poor choice for long-term storage unless effectively sealed. You can find bulk-packed, steel-cased, military-style ammo sealed in airtight spam cans, but once you open a can, you should plan to burn the stuff in a reasonable period of time. Although not quite as volatile as milk or mayonnaise, steel-cased ammo should be viewed as having a “best if used by” date once the seals are cracked.
These are the "hot rods" of the ballistic set. If steel-cased blasting bullets were Fords, social bullets would be Ferraris. These cases are typically nickel plated to remain corrosion resistant. They will be called upon to ride in the magazine of your carry gun for months, if not years, while remaining ready to make that one, perfect, life-saving shot. It really doesn’t matter your station in life—you spare no expense on your social bullets.
Expect them to cost upward of a dollar a round, but that’s essentially a one-time investment. I burn mine off and replace them every few years just to be safe, but even that is not really necessary. Keep them clean and free of lint, and they should still be ready to go, come what may. The actual bullets in your social ammo embody more technology than does your smart phone. They are designed to contort into the most egregious configurations once they contact something soft, wet and warm. In so doing, they are intended to expeditiously
NOBODY EVER WANTS TO USE THE SOCIAL OR ZOMBIE SORT [OF AMMO], BUT IT IS BETTER TO HAVE THEM AND NOT NEED THEM THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
render the threat no longer threatening. Here’s where your previous investments yield a proper return. Where blasting bullets poke little holes, social bullets veritably explode.
We’ve all seen the movies. It’s not a matter
I HAVE IT ON RELIABLE MEDICAL INFORMATION THAT ZOMBIES ARE NOT TECHNICALLY REAL, BUT THAT HASN’T STOPPED OUR VERY OWN FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY FROM ISSUING GENUINE GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED GUIDANCE ON HOW TO COPE WITH THEM ...
of “if” as much as “when.” I have it on reliable medical information that zombies are not technically real, but that hasn’t stopped our very own Federal Emergency Management Agency from issuing genuine government-sponsored guidance on how to cope with them (No kidding. Google "FEMA Zombie Apocalypse." Now who still thinks it’s silly?). Regardless of whether the precipitating event actually involves the undead, maintaining a decent supply of service ammo as an integral part of your survival stash is foundational dogma. That $2,000, tricked-out black rifle might look like pure death and run like a scalded ape, but if you run out of ammo, it’s simply another club. In that event, I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer a Louisville Slugger. Zombie bullets demand their own peculiar specifications. They must obviously be effective downrange. That’s a function of barrel length, mechanical particulars, caliber and optics. The superlative periodical you currently clutch owes much of its success to the exploration of these nuanced details. However, there’s more to it than just that. Zombie bullets must also be unflinchingly reliable. While they need not be quite the superstars your social bullets might, their performance will potentially carry substantial gravitas if ever used for real. As a result, you really don’t want to stockpile the cheap stuff for counter-zombie operations. Lastly, you need to be able to get to your zombie bullets quickly. The undead may yet show the good grace to arrive when you are well rested after a proper night’s sleep and a robust breakfast. However, I doubt it. I have been in a couple of real emergencies, and they were come-as-you-are affairs. You need to be able to access and employ your zombie bullets with minimal fuss. Modest cost, lifesaving reliability, the capacity to age gracefully and ready access in an emergency might seem like mutually exclusive parameters. However, it turns out there is an organization of some repute that has some modest experience in this area: To find the state-of-the-art in zombie bullet technology, one need look no further than
the United States Army.
BULLETS FOR THE BIG, GREEN MACHINE
They come in a variety of “flavors,” but for now, we will restrict our investigation to 5.56mm. Although vigorously derided as an inadequate poodle-shooter at the time of its introduction, Eugene Stoner’s .223 Remington and the nearly, but not quite identical 5.56mm are now combat-proved. Today’s iterations come in two major flavors. M193 rounds push a fairly nondescript 55-grain, lead-cored, copper-jacketed bullet. This round’s downrange performance stems from its innate instability. When this zippy, little bullet strikes something soft, it typically yaws sideways, frequently breaking at its cannelure into two or three major fragments that then produce their own independent wound channels. The performance of this round is dependent upon velocity, and it is, indeed, more susceptible to brush and barrier material than 7.62x51mm ball. However, it is light to carry and fun to run while still reliably bringing the pain out to half a kilometer or so. M855 rounds weigh 62 grains, sport a green-painted tip and employ a bit more tech. These lead-cored, copper-jacketed bullets include a hardened steel penetrator that makes them more effective against lightly armored targets. M855 ammunition will reliably penetrate about 3mm of steel at 600 meters. This makes them capable of defeating most steel combat helmets at that range. Much of the performance of the 5.56mm round is dependent upon the aforementioned instability. The M193 was designed to launch out of a 20-inch M16 barrel with a 1:12 twist. Modern M4 rifles sport a 14.5-inch barrel with a tighter, 1:7 twist. The faster twist increases the round’s innate stability and subsequently lessens its downrange effectiveness. However, I have seen a lot of people shot with a lot of different weapons, and none of them seemed particularly happy.
This quality military-grade ammunition is the best zombie ammo I have found thus far. It comes packed in a standard, airtight, waterproof .30-caliber ammo can in the same configuration as received by our troops currently serving in Afghanistan. This means that it is safe to store for the long haul and remains ready to go on a moment’s notice. The design of these pressed steel ammo cans dates back to World War II. The details have been updated a bit over the years, but the concept remains the same: They seal via a rubber gasket and are the "Swiss Army Knife" of the prepper world. I have stored some of the most eclectic kit in my ridiculous collection of these cans. If properly packed, they will reliably keep their contents dry and dark while rendering most stuff immune to rough handling. Federal XM855 comes 420 rounds to a box and packed on 10-round stripper clips. New math tells us that 420 rounds equates out to 14 30-round magazines for your M4, AUG or SCAR. I keep two boxes on hand at all times and feel adequately prepared to deal with any reasonable threat, as well as most of the unreasonable sorts. Each box packs three loaded 10-round strippers into each cardboard sleeve and includes a pair of pressed steel stripper clip guides. This means you can grab a sleeve and fill a single magazine. To use the stripper clip guide, you slip the broad end over the top of the magazine spine and then arrange a loaded stripper in the top. Press vigorously, and all 10 rounds pop right into place. Repeat this process two more times, smack the spine of the magazine on something substantial to keep all the rounds seated properly, and you are ready to go. I can load a 30-round M4 magazine in maybe 30 seconds without feeling unduly rushed.
Everybody who is serious about survival needs all three sorts of ammo. The initial investment need not be ridiculous; and, as long as you think it through, in today’s political climate, you can make your ammo dollars stretch quite a bit. Burn the blasting bullets to keep sharp, tote the social bullets to keep safe, and tuck the zombie bullets in the corner of your closet for a rainy day. Nobody ever wants to use the social or zombie sort, but it is better to have them and not need them than the other way around.
For feeding fast-firing buzz guns such as this full-auto MAC-11, nothing beats cheap, steel-cased blasting bullets.
Above: Winchester’s Forged line of 9mm ammunition sports the same quality primers, bullets and clean-burning powders as its Winchester White Box rounds in inexpensive steel cases. It costs about the same per round as the cheap, imported stuff and supports American jobs. Far right, top, and center: Imported steel-cased FMJ rounds have historically represented the cheapest training ammo on the market. Typically produced in eastern Europe on military machinery, these rounds are reliable and adequately accurate for training purposes. Far right, bottom: Most all new-production, steel-cased ammo is noncorrosive and fairly clean.
Top left: Social ammo such as these solid-copper Silverback rounds from Gorilla Ammo will sit for months to years in your magazines, waiting for that one critical shot. Middle left: SIG Sauer recently opened a spanking-new ammunition plant in Arkansas that produces some of the finest social bullets in the world. Bottom left: Social bullets are not confined to handgun rounds. Winchester PDX-1 Defender loads are available in rifle, pistol and shotgun versions.
Social bullets are those top-quality defensive loads that stand ready to defend your family on no notice.
Far left, bottom: Packed dry and snug in a GI ammo can, this Federal XM855 ammo will stand ready for years until you need it to come out and play. Near left: XM855 zombie bullets shoot plenty straight. These 30-meter groups came from a MIL-SPEC M4A1, the SIG MCX and the homebuilt Pocket AR. Far left, top: Federal XM855 comes packed 10 rounds per stripper and three strippers per cardboard sleeve, along with a pair of stripper clip chargers. Each cardboard sleeve charges a single 30-round magazine. Popular combat rifles such as this Steyr AUG feed XM855 ammo with alacrity.