Who would believe that the United States would experience not one but two major ammunition shortages in the last few years? With these ammunition shortages also came an increase in prices. Even now, in 2014, legally armed citizens are still encountering shortages of certain brands, types and calibers of ammunition. These shortages have also led to an increase in the price of ammunition. Even certain ammunition reloading components that were once readily available have become difficult or impossible to find, especially in large quantities.

People who take their survival seriously have a reason to be concerned about ammunition shortages as well as with the rising cost of ammunition. One concern involves the possibility that our nation will experience another ammunition shortage, one that will be considerably more serious than the previous shortages. People who take their survival seriously also tend to limit their practice sessions while trying to maintain the proper balance between remaining proficient with firearms and maintaining a reasonable stockpile of ammunition for future emergencies. In this article we will discuss two options that are worth considering that can enable you to train on a regular basis in a cost-effective fashion, even when certain popular rifle calibers are in short supply or too expensive to purchase in bulk.

High Caliber, Low Cost

rifles, stockpile, CZ, 7.26, guns
The bolt-action CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62x39mm is an excellent alternative to a semi-auto rifle, especially if you live in a jurisdiction that prohibits the possession of high-capacity, magazine-fed semi-auto rifles.


During the first ammunition shortage, I noticed that large quantities of military surplus 5.45x39mm ammunition were being imported into the U.S while we were experiencing serious shortages of 5.56mm NATO ammunition. The interesting thing about 5.45x39mm ammunition is that this caliber is one of the most proven rounds of ammunition ever used in combat, albeit by Soviet troops while fighting their war in Afghanistan. The rifle designed by the Soviets to operate with 5.45x39mm is the AK-74.

“The interesting thing about 5.45x39mm ammunition is that this caliber is one of the most proven rounds of ammunition ever used in combat…”

The fact that a seemingly unlimited number of sealed metal cans of 1,080 rounds of 5.45x39mm ammunition sold for anywhere from $106 (dealer cost) to an average of $199 made buying this ammunition a very attractive proposition. Thanks to Century International Arms, a semi-automatic version of the Bulgarian AK-74 sold for significantly less money than popular versions of U.S.-made semi-automatic AR-15s and M4 Carbine variants. Even the incredibly reliable AK-74 magazines were readily available for very reasonable prices. I should add that at that time Smith & Wesson was the only firearms manufacturer that produced an AR variant that was chambered in 5.45x39mm that proved to be reliable and inexpensive to operate during an ammunition shortage.

Fast-forward to more recent events when .223/5.56mm NATO ammunition sold for almost $1 a round and .308/7.62x51mm NATO ammunition was also incredibly expensive and in short supply. As someone who already transitioned to a Century International Arms AK-74 and also owns a semi-automatic Century International Arms Yugoslavian M70 AK-47, the day came when it became impossible to train while expending liberal amounts of 147-grain 7.62mm NATO ammunition in the rifles that I owned and field tested for various magazine articles. When this happened I had two choices. One option was to stop training with a magazine-fed, semi-automatic, .30-caliber rifle. My second option was to adapt to the circumstances by transitioning to training more often with my Yugoslavian M70 AK-47 in 7.62x39mm.

I also decided to purchase Sig Sauer’s SIG556R, an amazingly accurate and flawlessly reliable semi-automatic rifle that uses an AK-47-style rotating bolt in its operating system. The SIG556R rifle also uses metal and plastic AK-47 magazines and comes with rail mounts to accommodate an optic, sights and other necessary accessories.

Just like the price of a 1,080-round metal can of 5.45x39mm ammunition has always been less expensive than .223/5.56mm NATO ammunition, the cost of a 1,000-round case of non-corrosive 7.62x39mm ammunition also proved to be significantly less expensive than the cost of high-quality .308/7.62mm NATO ammunition. After checking with different vendors I realized that it was possible to purchase 1,000-round cases of high-quality, non-corrosive Golden Tiger 7.62x39mm ammunition for $270 dollars in 2013. By 2014, a 1,000-round case of Golden Tiger 7.62x39mm ammunition was even less expensive. In addition to the ammunition being less expensive and readily available, the rifles mentioned in this article that are chambered in 7.62x39mm are also less expensive to purchase than name-brand, magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles that are chambered in .308/7.62mm NATO.

Reliable Accuracy

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The 7.62x39mm SIG556R features a side-folding stock and utilizes AK-47 magazines. The rifle is incredibly soft shooting, well made, reliable, accurate and easy to operate.


Whether equipped with an Aimpoint CompM4 red-dot optic or a magnified optic like the Trijicon TA11J-308G ACOG, the SIG556R rifle has proven to be just as reliable and accurate as any of the magazine-fed, semi-automatic rifles chambered in .308/7.62mm NATO that I have field tested and trained with over the years, with the SIG556R being significantly less expensive to operate. Even the AK-47s and AK-74s that I have field tested and train with have proven to be flawlessly reliable, incredibly rugged and accurate, with all of these rifles capable of delivering hits with adjustable iron sights at close-quarters battle (CQB) distances and beyond.

Bulk Firepower

Should we ever experience a cataclysmic event, the cost of firearms and ammunition will likely skyrocket far beyond whatever we have experienced in the past. Certain national or global catastrophic events could also make it difficult (or impossible) for ammunition companies to obtain the resources that are necessary to manufacture ammunition. Existing stockpiles of ammunition could also be destroyed during certain catastrophic events. A major military conflict, including a world war, could also negatively impact the ability of manufacturers to produce ammunition for civilian use. If these issues concern you, the best course of action is to transition to firearms that are chambered in calibers that are less expensive and available in bulk sales even when ammunition shortages exist.

For More Information

Century International Arms

Sig Sauer


This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE TM Fall 2014 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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