Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How Are Your Ammo Cans Organized?

This week I had the occasion to pick up a couple more ammo cans. Got to thinking about how I organize them, the reasoning behind that organization and overall how it's working.

Most of our ammo cans are standard 50cal cans or the comparably sized M249 SAW cans. These are a good size while still being light enough to move around. We have a few of the smaller 30cal cans these are great for commercial boxes of rifle ammo like 30-30 or 30'06. If I recall they neatly fit some bricks of .22 ammo also. We have a few big 120mm cans. Don't like them as they get stupidly heavy plus of course the stuff you need will be at the bottom.

Previously our ammo cans were just filled as stuff came in so it was a big mess. Recently I went through inventorying and reorganizing our ammo cans.  Between different sized objects, especially sealed cases and part cases of ammo, quantities of different stuff and available can sizes there is an inevitable game of Tetras. As many cases as can be homogenous are. Cans are marked on the outside with the caliber, round count and when applicable bullet type. This is how approximately 80% of our cans are set up.

Two ammo cans are set up as "Go Cans". They are set up to feed our Survival Guns and are identical except for different (backup) accessories inside. The only change I've made since writing that article is swapping the '06 out for 30-30 since there is no longer an '06 on inventory. Also nothing says 'Merica like a 30-30.

Anyway last week we picked up 2 more ammo cans.  Both had an intentional purpose.

One is for range ammo. My biggest fail of this current gun/ mag/ ammo hysteria is that I did not plan for continued practice, zeroing guns, etc all. I had what I considered (of course more is nice but we have to balance a lot of things) OK amount of ammo but there wasn't a budget for training, etc. That meant if I needed 100 rounds to test fire and zero a rifle it came out of the amount of ammo I considered sufficient for an emergency. That is obviously a problem. On the other hand if I was smart like Tam who keeps disaster/ operational ammo and range/ practice ammo separate I could practice through an ammo shortage without worrying that it's coming out of operational ammo. 

Range ammo typically doesn't stay around long enough for storage in cans to be strictly necessary but a can is a good way to keep things organized or grab it all in a hurry. This way there aren't random boxes of ammo here, there and everywhere which lets me look in one place to know what is in the range stash. On top of it is a piece of tape that says Range Meat. I made an intentional decision not to bother keeping written inventories on range ammo as it is going to fluctuate. When things get better I would like to keep 500 rounds of .223, 500 of 9mm, a couple hundred .38, 2k in .22, a hundred rounds of 12 gauge and a couple boxes of 30-30 to be able to shoot whatever, whenever, without dipping into our core ammo stash. [Once buying in bulk is practical again I'll rotate the ammo. EX buy 500 rounds of 9mm ball, pull 500 rounds out of the stash and replace it with the new stuff, shoot the old stuff, repeat. It's just not worth it to dig out a 50 round box of 9mm here and 40 rounds of .223 there.] At that point the .22 will get a small can and the rest will likely split a large can.

The other can is what I call an 'Orphan Can'. It is the transitional place where I keep various ammo that has been purchased until there is enough of something to put into it's own can. This is largely a function of our current environment with high prices plus spotty availability. Honestly I'm just buying enough to replace what I'm shooting these days or building stocks of what we are especially short on [Example, I have a .22 that only seems to feed a certain type of ammo so I buy it whenever it's available. That gun is handy but picky so I will buy that particular ammo (CCI Mini Mag or Velocitor) till I've got 2k or so stashed.] Unless you are really short it is IMO not a good time to stock up. Prices are getting back to normal so if you have a bit stashed for a rainy SHTF day I would wait a little while to probably save a lot of money. In any case the orphan can takes the random boxes of ammo I buy until there is enough of something to put in it's own can or the thing gets full at which point I'll figure it out.

So basically I have a bunch of relatively homogenous (1 type of ammo) cans, 2 go cans, a range can and an orphan can. I plan to keep this setup more or less. The only change I can see making is if/ when new caches are established. They would obviously have ammo cans associated with them which would be set up for their purpose but probably look a lot like our go cans.

How are your ammo cans organized?


Aesop said...

Similar, but...

I buy for the stash, drop in a silica packet, and stuff it in the back for re-check in a few years.

The range/rotational stuff never lasts long enough to go in the long-term stash.

That'll likely change when things calm down and prices come back to earth, my judgement for which is large quantities of .22LR everywhere. Then I'll get a can load, and pull the oldest can up for ready use.

Also, .30 cans are, obviously, good for 7.62x51, which gets effing heavy in a .50 or SAW can, and they're also good for 12 ga. in 5 or 25 round boxes. One .30 can is 4 25-shell boxes of #7.5, which is a nice afternoon at the trap range with some friends.

Until things get less stupid, range time has been traded for dry-fire/snapping in practice. Actual shooting will also resume in earnest when I don't need to sell a kidney to finance ammo for a range visit.
Or when there are tanks in the streets, whichever comes first.

I use ammo cans for other things, and color code them:
Red - Firemaking tools, tinder
Blue - Water storage/purification
Green (forest, not OD) - Food storage
Yellow - Shelter: sace blankets, tarps, bivy sacks, 550 cord
Orange - Signal: whistles, mirrors, flares, etc.
White - First aid supplies
Black - Tools
A white paint square on the pull handle end makes a great place for labelling with paper labels and Sharpie.

Which coincides with 1-cube milk crates in the same colors from Container Store, for the same purpose, so I can keep stuff from spreading everywhere, keep it protected, and find things with a minimum of fuss.

Meister said...

All the cans are labeled with everything about the ammo. Then kept in a locked steel cabinet. 9mm is kept in 30 cal cans and everything else is in 50 cal cans.

Reloaded ammo that's stored gets used if it's sat longer than 5 years. I generally keep ammo I plan to utilize soon in a large filing cabinet drawer. This allows me to rotate the stock as needed and keep tabs on what needs to be run on the presses. Long term storage ammo gets vacuum packed and canned.

As time goes on, I've found that keeping a goodly supply of components is far more flexible than having the heavy cost of loaded ammo in every caliber. If I keep 5k small rifle primers I can load 380, 9mm, 40, 38 and some 45acp. Flexibility is key.

I haven't had to change my shooting habits, just the caliber to suit what I had available. Once the bullets came available, I ordered deep. Rinse and repeat.

Anonymous said...

A guy I know keeps it simple. The can's inventory is written down on index card and taped on inside lid. The bottom tier of box is written on bottom of card, the stacked boxes above it. Easy way to minimize the amount of time to dig through and find out.

AWB said...

We've got a go can, and range can, both ABS plastic about the size of a .50 cal.

The bulk purchases stay in the shipping cardboard. Loose ammo and boxes are separated by caliber and all fit nicely in a locked steel cabinet.

Anonymous said...

I spray paint the cans to indicate caliber - red is .45ACP, brown is 7.62, blue is 5.56, etc. Original OD is a variety or non-standard calibers.

That way I can easily ID them, or tell someone to grab a red can.....

Fidel said...

I keep a go-can in each vehicle, with an assortment of common (for me) ammo, just in case. This is because while living in Los Angeles I went to the range the day the Rodney King riots started and shot up all my ammo...then had to drive through areas that were rioting (although it wasn't apparent at the time).

Anonymous said...

Mine is mostly loose bulk, kept by caliber and type in .30 cal cans with a label on top and a card with the count inside that I adjust when I pull some out for practice. I'm getting old, because 1000 rounds of 9mm is a damn heavy can.

Thank you all. I'll be putting some spare cans to work with some of your ideas.

Chris said...

We like others have a mix of 30 cal and 50 cal cans with a few dry boxes and spam cans mixed in.

I label everything with colored duct tape: red for communist calibers, blue for NATO calibers, yellow for our most commonly shot calibers, and some other random color for the other odds and ends.

We also keep one dry box each for range ammo, and I keep a few boxes in a range bag for my most common rifles. So if I'm taking the AR to the range I just grab the AR range bag and have everything I need.

riverrider said...

pretty much the same. i have a "fat50" go-box, and another as an extension of the go box. then i have one with mags for everything, cleaning gear and .22 conversions. all three are marked with orange duct tape and kept by the door of my supply room. the rest are labeled like yours and marked with yellow tape for "second load" and green for "if there's time". i keep a fishing rod bag with an m4, browning hp, mk2, and an m6 in it by the door so i can sling the bag, grab the first two cans and be off if it was truly shtf. the rest of my preps are in clear rubbermaid totes, taped in the same priority so we know at a glance what gets loaded first, second, third. food the same way....i do wish i could get motivated to organize my range stash better, its just stacked up on a shelf, ad hoc. some of it i'd like to move to the shtf stash and shoot the lesser quality stuff in the sthf boxes.

mdknighthawk said...

I keep mine by caliber in 50 cal cans with labels on them.
Good idea color coding.
I use Amazing cat litter in coffee filters for moisture control, its 100% silica.
The large cans make great wood burning stoves, a lot of how to videos on you tube.
Md knighthawk

Anonymous said...

I keep it all in 50cal cans, first come, first serve. Sometimes I'll break open a box to fill some small areas. When I need something specific, I'll sit down on the floor, pull the cans around me, and get lost oohing and ahhing, mumbling 'my precious'.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

I keep my "Stash" ammo in 50 cal cans labeled with the caliber and round. Each stash can has 1000 rounds, except the 357 which only holds 950 in the original boxes. I keep range ammo in 30 cal cans, and these cans are labeled "use first". "Stash cans" have only one specific round and I do not mix other rounds in even if the can is not full. Label the cans with the ammo type. That way I know at a glance how much ammo I have.

In the past I rotated the range ammo from stash stocks. Using the oldest first and replacing with a new 1000 round case. But with the current situation I use whatever cheap ammo I can find or reloads as range ammo and hold the good stuff which has become expensive.

50 cal cans make storage easy.

Commander_Zero said...

Pretty much everything is in ammo cans. Every can has to be kept below a maximum weight to ensure that every individual can is 'man portable'. No point dropping 70# of ammo into an ammo can if only one person out of the entire group can lift it.

Cans are usually marked with a hang tag off of the bail on the front of the can.

Certain cans have a small piece of orange flag tape tied to the handles. This is to mark that particular can as 'mission critical'. Basically, if you have to beat feet in a hurry and can't take everything, make sure to take just the cans with the tape on them.

Some stuff, because of its nature, doesn't need the heavy-duty lovin' an ammo can can provide and are instead stored in five-gallon buckets with colored Gamma Seal lids.

Speaking of ammo can organization, I just did a post on making magnetic stencils for ammo cans: http://commanderzero.com/blog/2013/05/08/magnetic-stencils-for-ammo-cans/

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