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    7 Best Calibers For People On A Budget

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    7 Best Calibers For People On A Budget

    Ammo is definitely not as inexpensive as it once was. This is a huge problem for people on a budget seeking to bulk up their ammo stockpile.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to invest a fortune into assembling an arsenal either. There are a handful of specific calibers you can stick to that are usually cheaper than the multitude of other options. Additionally, there are specific steps you can follow that will help you save money.

    Here are the best calibers for people on a budget:

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    Affordable Calibers

    Here are the specific calibers that are, generally speaking, the most affordable:

    12 Gauge

    12 gauge is the most popular shotgun round worldwide, and subsequently it’s also the most widely available and affordable. Birdshot will prove to be much more affordable than buckshot or slugs in most cases. 12 gauge is an excellent round to use for home defense, and it’s also very effective for bird hunting or even big game hunting within moderate distances (and with the use of slugs).

    20 Gauge

    Another shotgun caliber that is often very affordable is 20 gauge. Again, birdshot will almost always be cheaper than buckshot or slugs. 20 gauge is a good alternative to those who don’t prefer the heavier recoil of 12 gauge. Just make sure that the actual weight of your 20 gauge shotgun is not any lighter than the 12 gauge version, and you’ll notice a drastic reduction in recoil. 

    .22 LR 

    One of the best reasons to invest in .22 LR is the fact that it can be bought in bulk packs of hundreds of rounds at affordable prices. Yes, prices have risen since the pandemic began, but you can still buy .22 at lower prices than virtually any other caliber. .22 LR serves many practical purposes as well: it’s fun to shoot, great for pest control and small game hunting, and produces significantly less noise than other calibers.

    9mm Luger 

    Buy far the most widely produced and affordable handgun caliber is the 9mm Luger. While not as cheap as it used to be pre-pandemic (as is the case with almost all other calibers), it’s still the most affordable option today, having a lower cost-per-round than the comparable .40 S&W, 10mm Auto, or .45 ACP calibers. 

    5.56x45mm NATO

    The 5.56x45mm NATO and its .223 Remington counterpart remain among the most affordable centerfire rifle cartridges even post-pandemic. One reason why 5.56 has remained so popular and affordable is because it’s the most common round choice for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15. It’s also the standard caliber used in countless other semi-automatic rifles and carbines as well. 


    Another centerfire rifle round that has remained fairly economical is the round used for most AK and SKS type rifles, the 7.62x39mm. One reason why 7.62x39mm has remained fairly affordable is because of the fact that it’s usually available in the form of steel cased cartridges, which are usually cheaper than brass cased ammo. More discussion on this later. 

    .308 Winchester 

    If you want a big game hunting cartridge that has remained somewhat cost effective as well, the .308 Winchester or its 7.62x51mm NATO counterpart are probably what you’re looking for. The CPR for .308 has remained generally lower than other big game hunting calibers such as .270 Winchester, 7mm, or .30-06 Springfield. Besides it being relatively economical, .308 is a very versatile round as well, and is capable of dropping any kind of game animal in North America. 

    How To Find Ammo For Cheap

    Now that we’ve gone over the specific calibers that are (generally) the most affordable, here are some tips you can follow to acquire ammo for cheap:

    Look Online

    First and foremost, do most of your ammo shopping online rather than at a store. Not only are there far more options online by the caliber, you can quickly compare prices to find out what the cheapest choices are. When ammo shopping online, one of the most important tips is to…

    Look For CPR (Cost-Per-Round)

    Always look for the CPR, or cost-per-round, rather than the overall price. This will truly tell you how much you are spending on the ammunition. Simply take the overall price of the box (or pack) of ammunition, and then divide by the number of round sin the box. 

    Buy Bulk 

    As a golden rule, the CPR is always less when you purchase ammunition in bulk rather than by individual boxes. Yes, you’re spending more overall, but you’re also paying less by the round. This makes buying in bulk a more efficient way to buy ammunition than in individual boxes, as well as a good strategy to save money overtime. Look for bulk packs of 500 to 1,000 rounds, and you should notice that the CPR is lower. 

    Buy Steel Case 

    Steel cased ammunition is almost always cheaper than brass cased. Steel cased ammo usually corrosive and non-reloadable, which is why it’s cheaper. Additionally, some firearms are not designed to use steel cased ammo, so research this ahead of time. Either way, you will almost certainly need to clean your firearms more often when shooting steel cased rather than brass cased.

    But if those are sacrifices that you are willing to make to save money, steel cased ammo can be a good way to go. 

    Buy Small Amounts Consistently 

    A good strategy to steadily increase your ammo stockpile is to make it a habit to buy just one or two boxes a week from your local store. Just walk in, pick up a box or two, and that’s it. This will increase your ammo storage slowly but steadily overtime, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly your collection grows.


    Ammunition is certainly not as cheap as it used to be. But stick to the above calibers and strategies that we’ve covered here today, and you can avoid spending a fortune. 

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