How to Carry Ammo in a Bug Out Bag: Survival 101

Bugging out is dictated by an unsafe situation. 

How to Carry Ammo in a Bug Out Bag

This is why many people choose to carry a personal protective device on their person or in their bags. 

That tool can take many forms, but I would say the most popular choice is a firearm. 

The question then follows of how much ammunition and how to carry it in a bug out bag.

This is one of those hot topics that I am sure not everyone will agree with what is laid out in the following article.

And that is okay.

With that in mind here are some things to think about when it comes to ammunition and your BOB.

How Much and How to Carry it?


The classic answer to how much ammunition should you have is “you can never have enough.”

I do agree with that statement as it relates to staying in one location, but I do not fully agree with it when it comes to your bag. 

A BOB is meant to function as a resource to help you get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. 

The distance between those two points is going to be different for everyone but point B is hopefully going to be a location that has additional supplies stockpiled.

This includes ammunition.

To get to point B quickly a BOB cannot be extremely heavy. 

I do not think I need to tell most people that ammunition is heavy, and it does not matter what caliber you use, its weight quickly adds up. 

An overly heavy pack will dramatically slow a person down and can be a cause for injury. 



I am not exactly sure what people think they will be running into that leads them to think they need to fill half of their bag with rounds. That is what ammunition caches are for.

And I guess that is part of the rub. We never know what we will run into. 

However, I think it is unreasonable to think thousands or even hundreds of rounds will be needed for a person to get to their second location. 

If a person is bugging out it stands to reason that many others are doing the same. At the beginning of an event, most people are not going to want to fight but simply get to safety as well. 

This is not to say there will not be dangers and those who might have ulterior motives. 

At the same time, I find it hard to believe people will be pinned down in these large firefights as though a military action is taking place. 

So down to specific amounts.

A firearm owner who is bugging out is probably carrying two platforms. A primary and a secondary.

Having enough ammunition to fully reload those tools several times over would be appropriate. 

Depending on the capacity of the firearm, somewhere under two hundred rounds total seems reasonable.

This range gives a person the ability to protect themselves without breaking their backs. 

Carrying It


The best option for carrying ammunition would be in the form of extra magazines or moon clips for revolvers. 

These will keep the ammunition both organized and readily accessible. 

Other options would include ammunition pouches or belts that have individual slots for keeping the rounds secured. 

Carrying ammunition in its original packaging where the rounds are “loosely” stored could prove frustrating if the box were to open inside the bag.

Additionally, loosely packed ammunition in bags, like a resealable plastic bag, may not be the best option.

Unprotected rounds bouncing around in a bag full of tools and gear could unintentionally lead to a primer being stuck. 

Wrapping It Up 

Bug out plans should entail you getting to your secondary safe area as quickly as possible. 

This means an assortment of gear will be needed. But none of that gear should be sacrificed due to the others. A well-balanced BOB will provide necessities such as water, shelter, food, first aid, and yes protection. 

The amount of ammunition you carry will depend on your abilities, your physical state, and the distance being covered. Plan for your situation and keep it realistic. What are your thoughts on a BOB and ammunition? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know. Thanks for reading and stay prepared! 

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.

7 thoughts on “How to Carry Ammo in a Bug Out Bag: Survival 101”

  1. I carry a mag. revolver and a medium caliber semi-auto rifle so I have 2 speed loaders and 3 magazines at the ready and with a MTM 50 round case for the pistol and a 100 round case for the rifle in my backpack. IMHO, this is plenty, if you need more then you probably need a different route or to stay at home. I not looking for a firefight and neither should you! The MTM cases keep your ammo safe from damage and I keep them in ziplock bags for water resistance.

  2. I’m more for a minimalist approach. For bug out purposes, I’d carry only a 9mil pistol with 3 extra mags. That’s 60+ rounds, and to me that’s a lot if I’m not going to a firefight or combat or something.

    Other than that I carry a knife, pepper spray and a steel telescopic baton. TBH I consider that already too much weight for self defense purpose only. I’d rather avoid trouble at all costs.

    I figure if I’m going out to live The Road/Book of Eli/Mad Max-style or something, then another pistol or revolver and a 2-barrel or compact pump shotgun, perhaps a hunting rifle.

    But that would be a lot of weight in guns and ammo alone to be carrying around by feet. And there’s the rest of the gear.

  3. You carry ammo in mag pouches on a vest or on your body armor not in your ruck. If you have to drop your ruck to maneuver you don't lose your ammo. In Vietnam tier three carried twenty magazines of twenty rounds, thirty round mags hadn't come out yet. Special ops…MACVSOG carried 36 magazines. The game was hide and seek, if you got compromised you had to fight back. We still ran out of ammo. You get resupplied from dead guys, you have to have compatible weapons. Revolvers went out with the civil war. No one carries ammo for those things. I don't care about the brand or the caliber but you need something everyone else has so you can use what is available. Know how to operate all the common systems; AK, AR, glock, sig, beretta

  4. Different people, different likely circumstances.

    Bugging out alone in a vehicle is different from bugging out on a bicycle is different from bugging out on foot is different from any of the above with children.

    Then toss in variables like age and physical abilities. So: there is no single Best. Every choice has benefits and costs.

    I’m inclined to think that the best armed person is the one who understands that s/he is FAR better off avoiding a gun fight than the one who is sure s/he can swagger into an encounter against seemingly poorly armed bad guys and prevail uninjured, because a/he cannot afford to get injured.

    I’m also inclined to believe that the data on those who use a gun to stop a ‘routine’ violent crime is something we can learn from even in unusual breakdown conditions.

    I interpret the data to say caliber almost never matters. In 90% of the encounters the gun isn’t fired because the bad guy desists at sight of the victim’s gun and apparent willingness to use it. So the caliber didn’t matter. In about 5% of the time the gun is fired but the bad guy isn’t hit. Again, the caliber didn’t matter. In about 5% of the time the gun is fired at least once and the bad guy is injured, but that means anywhere from a bad scratch on the little finger to drop dead on the spot.

    So only in about 5% of the cases could the caliber matter because most bad guys aren’t interested in getting shot. Yes, it might matter a lot in 5% or less, but only the individual can decide whether to prepare for the 5% or the 95%. Preparing well for the 5% has some big costs in weight and that translates into less other gear and supplies like water and food. The benefit of course is being well prepared for the 5%….unless one is so confident that one gets into a fight one would have avoided if you knew you were not so very well prepared.

    So: an extra canteen of water and fifty rounds of .22 or no extra canteen and fifty rounds of 9mm? Only you can make that decision, because every choice has drawbacks.

  5. Good food for thought. Basic load out is 300 long gun,60 side arm. But,I have several bug out scenarios and a 7.62, 5.56 & 12 gage as well as three calibers of side arms.

  6. Every situation, every BO condition is different.

    Assume the worse, then base the amount of ammo needed from that possibility.

    The type of firearm you are carrying also comes into the equation. If carrying a .22RF, several hundred rounds are entirely possible. If a .308 platform, your ammo stock will suddenly shrink due to bulk and weight.

    If enroute to my primary BO location, people will generally be more of a threat than the threat of wild animals, or hunger.

    In this scene, a tricked out Ruger .22 autoloader is hard to beat, while still being capable of feeding you and fighting off any wild anamial in the lower 48 if that becomes necessary.

    Modern .22RF loadings have come a long way in recent years in terms of power and accuracy. Even a newbie shooter can make head shots on zombies at 100 yards, and do it quietly. Being quiet will be a necessity while traveling the backwoods. You for sure don't want to attract others with the sound of a center fire rifle breaking the night silence.

    Assume the worse. Maybe a .22 isn't for you while making your way to your alternate survival hide out, but it is my primary BO arm iff'n I got to run..

    The Real Guns are quietly waiting for my arrival and caress.

  7. If I have a choice for a bug-out bag pistol it will be my RUGER 57 which uses a small .22 caliber 5.7 x 28 NATO submachine gun cartridge. The RUGER 57 uses 20 round magazines. I have 3 magazines with 2 of them in a Cordura double mag pouch so if 60 rounds is not enough then 160 won’t be either.

    That cartridge is very flat shooting and can easily make hits at 100 yards – maybe not lethal torso hits but it will make felons sick enough to seriously re-think coming at me. I like to think that cartridge gives me a better “stand-off” distance.


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