Have you standardized your calibers?

Standardizing calibers is often a popular topic at various preparedness and firearm forums all over the ‘net. The belief is by limiting the number of calibers that your firearms are chambered as well as possibly having common calibers between firearms – you can minimize the chance of running out of ammunition for one gun – thus making it an ill-designed paperweight.


Picture this: You arm yourself with a 9mm carbine and enter a defensive position protecting your property from a few brigands with nasty plans for you and your family. The fence line close to 90 yards away gives way to these thugs. As they fire a few aimless shots – you engage and remove one threat, and then another. The third is now 50 yards away and when you pull the trigger – there is a click. Problem – your 9mm carbine has malfunctioned. You pull your 9mm pistol from its holster – and know that not only do yo have 4 spare 17 round magazines for it – but you also have several 30 round magazines for your carbine that will fit the pistol as well. You are glad that you have in excess of 160 rounds available for you pistol.

For most of us – including me – that carbine or rifle malfunction would suddenly leave me with only the 4 spare 17-round magazines for the pistol.

I am not ready to trade my Stag AR for a Beretta 9mm Storm Carbine and a Beretta 9mm pistol – but I understand the benefits of the concept.

Here is my issue: The pistol is a back up and hopefully NEVER is needed nor used. It is strictly a “just in case” tool. The rifle/carbine is the main battle tool and is far more qualified for the job of protecting property and loved ones than the pistol.

Now – I have worked to minimize my own calibers to a large extent. Standardizing my calibers include focusing on .223/5.56, .22LR, 9mm, and 12 gauge.

How about you?


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31 thoughts on “Have you standardized your calibers?”

  1. It would also be a good idea to have a few gun adapters, I have two that convert 20guage to 9mm, they fit nicely in my double barrel 20. Only problem is they are not rifled, they work good but keyhole after 20 or so yards, of course a keyholing round will hit pretty hard! Rifled ones are available for 12 guage and many different calibers.

  2. I am ambivalent about 9mm carbines though hot loads (expensive Buffalo Bore stuff) out of a .357mag can equal average 30-30 loads.

    We are fairly standardized with .38/.357 and 9mm pistols; .223 and 30-30 for rifles plus of course 12 gauge and .22lr. Plan on picking up a .308 or a 30’06 but otherwise staying with what we have. Simple is good.

  3. Well looking at the comments I would add at least 2 more calibers. For me that’s a .40 Cal. and a 7.62×51/308. Many would also argue for a 7.62×39 too, but that’s one I’ll likely pickup post collapse from someone who is attempting to pillage and plunder. No I’m not saying because you choose the AK you a bad person, it just my experience that the ones shooting at me always seem to have an AK’s. Lets face it, it is the most popular battle rifle in the world.

    Good article Rourke, not many are preaching standardization. As for me, if you don’t have 2 of the exact same make and model you have none, because 1 is none. Most people have not experienced a broken, damaged or bent weapon, but in battle it happens all the time.

  4. There is a flip side of this argument though… If you are alone and all you can carry is a main battle riffle and a pistol, then perhaps standardized calibers is something to consider. I am a big fan of convertable guns and rifles, e.g. a 9mm barrel for my 40 cal Glock 22, or a 22 conversion for my AR, and so these types of arrangements and a little practice make a really quick conversion possible to make ammo interchangable.

    That being said, if you are prepping for a larger group SOME diversity in ammo seems to be desirable. I stock 5.56, 7.62×39, 9mm, 40cal, and 22lr, along with 12 ga, I even have a back up of 7.62x54R for a couple of last resort weapons. Now although I am more or less standardized on 5.56, having a little bit of variation allows my group greater flexibility when looking for ammo for resupply, if anything that is one of the things we should learn from the current ammo shortage. Granted the logic of popular calibers stands, because although the store shelves are bare I know first hand that lots of cubboards are filled to the brim of these calibers, but if you are really hard up for ammo, it is perhaps even likely that odd ball calibers will be, if not easier to find, easier to obtain!!! The more flexibility you have in calibers the more chance you have of having a working weapon if you need one.

  5. His & hers G23s+ his G22, her Kel-Tec P40. His & hers Bushmaster patrol rifles in 5.56 (eats both 5.56 & 223). Have a .357 SIG barrel and 9mm barrel & mags along with a 22LR slide for the G22. Buying a 22LR kit for the Bushmasters. Shotgun was easy – 12GA as it’s the most common gauge with secondone in the budget.

  6. I would have thought this debate would have ended with the current ammo shortage. All the primary calibers, 5.56, 9mm, .308, .45, .40 were all the first to disappear. All of the “standardized caliber” people would have been left high and dry. But right now I can still find 10mm, 7.62 nagant, Tokarev, etc. I agree with going with the standards for your go-to weapons, and have preached that for years. But the current ammo shortage (read: DHS-invoked gun control) has proven that you need backups in non-standard calibers. Because current situations like what we’re going through are going to be far more common than an anarchy-type situation.

  7. Unfortunately, our ammo diversity is a mess.

    Out of 12 adults in our group we have 2 rifle calibers (5.56 and 7.62NATO) and 4 pistol calibers (.45ACP, .40, 9mm, and .380). Everybody has a .22LR rifle and pistol (with several of each set aside for the granddaughters) and almost everybody has a 12GA shotgun. We have several AK variants (7.62×39), mostly for training and familiarity, which could be used as back up tactical weaponry in a pinch. I have a variety of other rifles – 30-06, 25-06, 7mm, 30-30, .30 carbine, .300 WM, .375 H&H, .444 Marlin, and .458 Weatherby – though, those are more for hunting and target shooting as opposed to tactical. The kids also have other rifle calibers for hunting and sport shooting, but I don’t even try to keep track of those. We also have two .338 Lapua rifles set up for extreme range (1,000+ meters) shooting.

    Over the last 2 years I have sold off several rifles in an effort to reduce this variation in calibers. Even so, I wound up buying an extra gun safe just to keep all of the various ammo seperate and in some sort of order (reminder, don’t leave safe open when 3 year old is in the house, what a mess).

    It’s difficult to standardize calibers (especially pistols) when the 200 pound gentlemen (loosely applied to our group) want something with knock down power and the 120 pound ladies (OK, maybe I fudged that a little) have their own ideas of what is comfortable to shoot.

  8. John and group. Great post and conversation. In fact I went the route of the picture in the blog. I utilize 9mm with my CX4 and PX4 with a very capable exchange of magazines. Of course long distance is handled with my heavy barrel .308 and then there is the up close and personal 12 gauge.

  9. .44mag pistol and Rifle – ammo still available, though getting spendy.

    .22lr rifle and pistols – ammo pricing much higher than before, but lots on the shelf.

    .45acp – hopefully enough of the shelf

    Then, assorted hunting rounds and loads in .30-06 and .338.

    At this point, if I have used everything up, I would have to say that we haven’t been having a good time and things would have gone seriously down the tubes. At that point in a long downturn, you have better have other backup devices, and the will to use them.

    Also, make sure you REALLY KNOW how to clean your weapons quickly and efficiently. You will have to clean them from time to time, and you will never know when trouble will show up. Have plenty of cleaning kits and supplies on hand, for each and every weapon.

  10. thats all good if you have a steady supply, but like now when the supply is disrupted there is an arguement for non-standard caliber firearms. my area has zero of your calibers in stock, but 17/22 magnum, 30-06, and 40cal are plentiful. 762 russian, both sizes are available in quantity and still relatively cheap. 762 tokarev as well, and i found 38special the other day,briefly. i standardized to a degree but keep a couple of “handi-rifle” types in odd calibers jic i run across an orphaned box.

  11. I’ve boiled mine down to “military calibers. 5.56, 7.62×51, 7.62×39 and .45. These should be available the longest as that is what Uncle uses, and it can be scavenged. However, since my 1st handgun was a .41 mag Blackhawk and dad gave me his .44 mag super Blackhawk I have those as back up and can handloaad rounds. I bought a .30-.30 Winchester ’94 lever gun 30years ago and its still the best brush gun I have. The 30 year old .380 that my wife has had still functions very well so might as well keep it. She is a hell of a shot with it too. I love my Mossberg 500 12ga, but it was too much for my 10yr old son (now in the Navy) so he got an 870 20ga youth model. I added a top folding stock and side-saddle to it and it makes a great truck gun with slugs and buck. The Mk 6 Scout survival rifle shoots great in .22lr and .410. Do I have thousands of rounds each? NO. I have a goal of 5000 rounds each for the 3 main battle rifles (5.56 and 7.62×51) and the 3 .45s. Everything else I have enough for basic hunting and the wherewithal to make more, but pick up what I can when I can. Moral of the story; plan ahead. Be mentally agile enough to use what you find and there is always barter goods. There is no ONE right answer.

  12. While I totally see the point being made here, I both agree and disagree for various reasons. If you have to choose only 2 weapons, one being a pistol, and the other being a carbine, I see the benefit of having both being the same caliber….to a point. However, we all know a pistol and a carbine wont fulfill all of your firearms requirements for the most part. A pistol (whilst being considered a “sidearm”) is a daily essential for me. I don’t think the local PD would appreciate me bringing my AR to work slung over my shoulder on my motorcycle everyday as that just might raise a few eyebrows. Carbines are really practical for 100 yards and often not much more. You should have a good 12 guage for hunting and or riot control. While 22lr’s are fun, I actually just got rid of mine. Its not reliable enough for me to trust my life to. My most recent additions are two .300 blackout AR’s built from 80% lowers. The .300 has great ballistics and is easily and very well silenced with sub sonic ammo. Now, more to the point, the reason I disagree with keeping your firearms all chambered in the same caliber is the availability (or lack thereof) of ammo these days. In pistols, I have 2 9mm’s, a .40 cal., and a .45. I was able to find bulk ammo for the .45 but had some difficulties getting ammo for the 9’s and the 40. as well, I was able to get 12guage shells no problem, but we all know how hard it is to get 5.56, and don’t even ask how hard it was to get my hands on .300blk! Regardless of the shortages, I still had at least one functional pistol and one functional long gun despite the shortage. You never know what ammo could be effected in a crisis, and that’s why you should have multiple calibers!

  13. One minor addition to my post. One thing I noticed was that while all the common ammo has been sold out all over recently, the oddball stuff is still sitting on shelves. 30-30, no problem. 20 guage, .25acp, 30-06, .17hmr, all that stuff is still readily available. So, if your shooting one of those, youre probably not even affected by the ammo situation. And those .17HMR’s go right through blue Kevlar helmets like a hot knife through butter. Did I say “blue” helmets??? Ooops…….sorry ; )

  14. While it is certainly a good idea to have guns and ammo in the standard calibers, I believe that it is also important to be able to utilize the odd stuff. 7.62×25 and 9mm Makarov are useful calibers and both the guns and ammo are cheap and plentiful. The same is true of 7.62x54R.
    As we have seen in the latest ammo panic, the common v\calibers quickly dry up. We can wait and hope for price and availability relief now, but what if all ammo production was halted? You might end up with a lot of expensive clubs.
    I believe that it may be necessary to arm some of my neighbors some day. A few Mosins and a case or 2 of ammo is still much less than a grand and you can arm others without getting into your best stuff.

  15. Mine is 9mm, .40, and .22lr for pistols. 5.56, 7.62×39, .22lr, and 30-30 for rifles. 12ga for shotgun. There is a good reason to use the common caliber even with current shortages, because the common calibers are what we produce and import in the largest quantities. Example of the 10 billion round produced in the U.S. it is estimated that 1.2 billion are .22lr alone. The .22lr represents 12% of the total ammunition produced in U.S.. The ammunition left on the shelves is there for a reason, they do not sale that much of it. The current shortage proves that. The common caliber shortage is not because of DHS it is because it is being purchase as soon as it hits the shelves by us, unlike the uncommon calibers which is not. If you want to use an uncommon caliber more power to you, but for me I will stick with the common ones because there are billions upon billions of rounds stockpile if not 10s of billions by American throughout this country.

  16. A few years ago as a group we settled on 4 ammo choices. Main rifle 7.62 x 39. 12 gauge , .45 ACP and .22LR. It has made stocking up much easier. We went with Ak’s, 1911’s, Remington 870’s , Remington 10/22. Keep the faith and keep on keeping on!

  17. I have a 5.45×39 rifle custom built by Red Jacket and wifey uses a Stag Arms 5.56. Our hand guns mine Glock 22 and a Taurus 24/7 in .40 S&W wifey has a Taurus PT111 in 9mm. We also have a ruger M77 MII K in .270 and a Remington 78 in .270. A ruger 10/22 SS and a Mossberg 500 Marine coat 12 guage. I am not worried about the ammo shortage because I took heed and have stocked up for years.

  18. I tend to agree with -762x51n8o-. Now I fully except that my troubles securing the ammo I need falls on me. Had I been wiser, I would not be now scrambling -as I have been for months- to gather what I feel is the minimum. Some might argue that it’s better to only need to hunt for one rather than three different calibers. But I have been able… at times to get one…. while never seeing the other….

  19. We’ve stuck with the basics too…

    40 – Because we’re surrounded by locals who use it…
    223 – Because of the same reason…
    12 Ga. – Again… locals…
    38/357 – Because we started with revolvers…
    22lr – Because it’s still cheap compared to everything else…
    30-06 – Because our friends use it…

    The only area where we’re going to change out is with the Mosin’s, and we’re trying to figure out if we should wait for this bubble to pass.

  20. I attempt to both consolidate as well as diversify at the same time, by having a range of ammo that works in as many guns as possible with back-ups to each caliber. I have two 357 revolvers that can also accept .38 special ammo. I have a .22 pistol and two .22 rifles, two .45 pistols including a .22 conversion kit for one of them, and an .223 AR 15 with a .22 conversion kit for it as well. One extra .223 rifle is all I am missing for my current needs.

  21. Maintenance & Training should keep your primary going, whatever your primary choice is you should know it inside and out, and have spare parts.

    The idea of having a carbine in a pistol caliber, is nice but it is not going to get the job done and ranges past 100 yd, and if they have even old Level III stuff 9mm or 40 are not going to cut it

    Our primary is 5.56, with either 9mm handguns.
    We have long range covered with 308 & 30.06 (PTR 91, Savage Scoped Bolt guns & M1 Garands) Also an assortment of 12 Gauge SG’s, we also have a reserve of 6 Russian SKS’s to arm extra people or if we capture a quantity of ammo.

    We have enough spare parts to rebuild half a dozen AR’s, and to keep most of the handguns running

    So primary calibers 22LR, 9mm, 223/5.56, 308, and 06
    Reserve calibers 762×39, 38/.357, and 45

    Note the only reason I stuck with 30.06, was I had 5000 rounds of ammo, and it was easier to acquire an M1 than, sell the ammo, replace it with 308

  22. Standardize ammo?
    If you are just getting into this game sure. Many preppers have been into shooting for decades and have collected a wide varaity of weapons.
    As I am one of those I have instead chosen to pair or triple up weapons packages tailored to mission. Example: The . HKs, ARs, SKS/AKs, Weatherby are for patrol and long range defense. The Uzis and other pistol caliber carbines are for perimeter defense with the combat shotguns doing double duty in both areas.
    The .45 UZI is backed up with a 1911. The Kel-tec carbine with a Glock 9mm, AR with Glock .40, AR7 with Ruger MKI. Packages are matched to a layered defense, skill level and age.
    Ammo stored varies in quantity, but all calibers have stored components and facility to be reloaded. These are; 22short(subsonic),22LR,.380, 9mm,.40,.45….223, W.270,7.62×39,and .308 as well as 12 gauge. additional dies for the .38/.357 family as they are so common.
    I have recently acquired a .22 conversion for my AR as I have so much .22 stored. All that said storage is weighted to the battle rifles and their backup hand guns. I am able to field three battle rifle packages and six perimeter defense packages from my arsenal alone. There are six other armed and capable individuals also coming to this site. Learn to reload and Buy more ammo! regards, D.

  23. Just like shoes and holsters, different calibers and different weapons fit different needs and purposes. While there are times that a .308 MBR is appropriate along with a backup 1911…..there are other times when a small concealable .380 fits the bill.

    I have done the whole “streamlining and standardizing my calibers” several times. My problem is that I like weapons that don’t always come in those calibers. LOL

    My personal opinion…..if you have a supplied bug out location or plan on bugging in, buy anything that you want and stock up higher on the more likely calibers. Perhaps 5000 rounds for your 5.56/.223 is adequate. Additionally maybe 300-400 rounds of .30-30 is more than enough.
    500 rounds of .30-06 for their bolt action is likely to last you nearly a lifetime, while those choosing a Garand may feel that 5000 rounds is preferable. (Hmmmm….. I sense a trend among the semi’s. How ever did we win any wars/battles before semi’s and each trooper was issued 40 rounds for a whole battle/engagement?)

    In my opinion, the primary benefit of of standardizing calibers is primarily in moving engagements or while in the process of bugging out. You want lightweight ammo if at all possible (It does nobody any good if you are fully prepared with 300 rounds of .308 and a SOCCOM-16 with your 1911 and 10 extra magazines if you end up left behind because you can’t keep up or are too tired to fight once you get there). You want to be able to interchange ammunition with others in your group until you can re-supply.

    On a side note, in reference to the example in the original post, I personally have never calculated it that way in my reasoning. Occasionally, when the situation dictates, I opt for a SUB2000 carbine (using Glock 22 mags) with the sidearm piece being Glock 23. I’ll carry approximately 3-4 spare G22 mags. My reasoning is that the sidearm is ALWAYS with me. The situation may determine that securing my long gun is appropriate, in which case I have my G23 and plenty of extra magazines. If the situation changes, simply grabbing the SUB2000 is enough. The spare magazines are already with me (in the form of the G22 spare mags. This means that I don’t have to stop and strap on 4 more mags for the carbine and more importantly, I’m not carrying extra unneeded weight in the form of carbine magazines (like spare AR mags) when I’ve left my carbine locked in the truck.

    Just some thoughts. And please bear in mind, there are countless exceptions to every rule. This is what allows the flexibility of the primary intention.

  24. OBTW- Reloading set up for all calibers… and then some. Figure it’s a salable skill in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Amazing part is that primers have gone missing just like ammo.

  25. Good article! I have thought about this issue myself but it’s tough.

    It’s good to have:
    40 Popular round with the locals
    223 Everyone has one
    12 Ga. Just because
    22LR Somewhat cheap and still quite useful
    30-06 for distance and stopping power!
    44 Mag Because I can shoot a head “clean off”
    45 pure stopping power!
    9mm everyone has one right?
    7.62 x 39mm

  26. I pretty much keep with 9mm, .22LR, 7.62x 39.and .380.. . not to say I don’t have some .38/.357 wheelguns around, and the ol’.06. . . . and a mosin. . . . and lots of 12 GA. . . . that is as “standardized” as I can get. . . . I want to keep scavenging options open. . .

  27. There are about 350 – 400 members in our little rural town of 10,000. Texas 🙂 We all have 5.56, 308 and .40’s. Most are retired and active military and police. The last time we went shopping one of the guys picked up 15,000 rounds of 5.56. It may appear like a lot of ammunition but it was for 12 people. Our friend did get some looks.

  28. Yes I have – .22 LR, .22 Mag, 9mm, .357, 12 gage, .223, .308 and 50 Beowulf. I do have the Beretta Storm carbine and 92s – they take the same mags. I am thinking my next purcahse will be a Desert Eagle in 50AE since I will be able to use the same powder, primers and bullets I have for the Beowulf to reload the AE.


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