Ammunition Management – The process and technique one uses to maintain a positive supply of ammunition that is readily available for loading and firing. Sounds like it’s right out of the dictionary, huh? I totally made that up just to make it sound a little different as we start talking about the topic of ammunition management. This is a topic I’ve decided to address after watching some newer shooters struggle with it at competitions and even on the range without time constraints. To keep it simple, you need ammunition to shoot, so lets discuss how to keep it available and ready to go when you are out shooting!
Ammunition Management – Getting Started
Ammunition management starts at home. You have to do an honest assessment of how much you need to bring in the first place, right? If you have two cases of factory ammo in the closet are you going to bring all 400 rounds with you to zero your gun? Probably not. I like to start by assessing how much ammunition I need and then I typically bring a little extra in case I underestimated the requirements or everything doesn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked it to. You can always keep shooting after accomplishing your goal for the day, but if you run out before achieving that goal you are screwed.
In a competition context, regarding ammunition management, I like to read the match requirements to get an idea of the total round count and how much I need for each stage or part of the day. A lot of matches will have you away from your car, and your ammunition supply, for hours at a time with only a break at lunch time and if it’s a smaller match you may be gone for the day. So you have to get a sense of what you need in order to practice proper ammunition management. If you are going to be shooting four stages in the morning of a big match burning around 10 rounds per stage you will need approximately 40 rounds for the morning segment. However, that is burning the ammunition you brought down to zero.
Sometimes you are allowed additional shots for half credit and if that is the case you might need as many as 80 rounds if you only make second round hits. I like to make estimations like that, and add a little extra in case you finish early and your squad wants to have some fun taking some pot shots at targets for fun rather than for score. So if I need to bring 80 in case I’m having a terrible day, I’ll typically bring the next full multiple of 50, so in this case the next full multiple of 50 is 100 rounds. Like I said, if you have extra you can always save it, or keep shooting, but if you run out you are kinda S.O.L. and that is definitely poor ammunition management.
Ammunition Management – Transportation
I think 100 rounds is more than enough for most small monthly type matches and plenty for a half day at larger matches with higher round counts and more stages to work through. Now for proper ammunition management you need a way to transport it. You can do what most new guys do and just bring your trust MTM plastic reloading boxes, or the factory ammo boxes the ammunition comes in, and toss them in your pack. However, I don’t like this method much. The boxes don’t conform well to the other stuff in your pack and they take up a lot of room. They are also slow to use if you need to reload quickly because it’s your turn to go first on this stage.
For transportation of ammunition I don’t think you can go wrong with either of the two following options. Option number one is the folding pouch with snaps or clips that hold around 20 rounds of ammunition each. This is your ‘ammo burrito’ type device that has elastic loops and holds the ammunition then folds up and closes. I like those because it helps you keep an accurate count of what you have left. If you have three pouches remaining and they each hold 20 rounds I have exactly 60 rounds remaining in my bag for the rest of the morning or afternoon segment of the match.
The second device is a kind of dump pouch approach. I’ve been using a TAB Gear SAC (Silent Ammo Carrier) lately and after getting over a little initial skepticism I’ve come to really like this approach. The TAB SAC is basically a zippered pouch with two compartments. The main compartment is spacious enough to dump 100 or so rounds into it ready to go. There is a flap only accessible by pushing up under the opening with another compartment in the rear for dumping your spent brass into. It also has elastic loops on the front to keep some rounds stashed and ready for immediate use if necessary. I especially like that this carrier type will conform better to open space in your pack.
Ammunition Management – Magazines
So now you have a couple good options for ammunition management with regard to transporting a larger quantity of ammunition. Now how do we go from transportation to implementation? Honestly, you need a magazine system. If you want to be competitive and able to reload more than a single round at a time you need to upgrade to a DBM (Drop Box Magazine) system. If you are going to do a magazine system, do it right. Get something that works with and runs off of genuine Accuracy International magazines. They are expensive, but they friggin’ work so save yourself the hassle that comes with cheaper options.
How many mags do you need to have with you? I highly suggest you have the maximum round count for a stage loaded into magazines with a third in reserve. Most matches these days run on multiples of 10 rounds or so since the standard AI magazine has a ten round capacity. Again, if there’s half credit for a second round hit you have a maximum count of 20 rounds for the stage. That’s two full magazines, and I’d suggest having a third in reserve. Not necessarily because good ammunition management means bringing excess rounds, but because it means planning for contingencies.
If you have a mag get gummed up with mud or snow and it jams you can lose a lot of time trying to clear it. That’s poor ammunition management. Better to have an extra magazine in reserve you can go to in the event of a malfunction or a magazine that you forgot to top off after the last stage. So I’m suggesting for proper ammunition management a minimum of three ten round magazines. I would also suggest at least a single five round magazine in case you are shooting off a barricade, a roof, or some weird contraption they set up where the extra clearance under the gun becomes advantageous.
I suggest you have a way to carry two of those magazines on your person at all times and you can start with the third in your hand or in the gun depending on the way the rules of the match or stage instructions dictate. Proper ammunition management means bringing enough in the first place, having a good way to transport it that is easily accessible, and having enough of it on your body to finish a stage without any issues. As a final suggestion and ‘ass saver’ implementation to file under ammunition management consider something like the Short Action Precision two round holder.
This little guy lets you velcro a couple rounds on your gun, stock, magazine, wherever you want to keep them close by and that’s an excellent idea. There are times when we all have a brain fart and forget to top off a magazine. Or we leave a magazine in our pack instead of on our belt and now we need an extra round or two and they aren’t close by. This is a handy little item for just those occasions. I really don’t think you can go wrong grabbing a few of these and sticking them somewhere you have easy access just in case you run into one of those, “oh shit!” moments where you are short a round.
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of sales and such, either. The Triad Pouches are of excellent quality and made in America. However, I typically browse the Midway USA sale and clearance sections and found these on clearance for about $4.00 a pop!