One lesson I think we’ve all learned in the Great Ammo Rush is that “common calibers” are both a blessing and a curse. Before the rush, common calibers such as .22LR, 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, .223 Remington, 7.62×39, and .308 Winchester could be found just about anywhere, and in generous quantities.
Once the rush started, however, everyone began stockpiling these common calibers, buying as much as they could afford. The shelves got bare, fast, and prices skyrocketed when scarce ammo could be found.
But the shelves never were completely bare, were they? I’m sure it depends upon your region, but I noticed locally that there was always .243 Winchester on the shelves in various loadings, along with .270 Winchester, .30-06, 7mm Winchester Magnum, and 300 Winchester Magnum. All of these are viable mid-to-long range rifles, and I don’t need to tell any of you about the history of the .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum as military sniping cartridges. I also never saw local shops run out of 12 gauge buckshot and slugs, except on rare occasions.
I enjoy shooting my Templar Custom chambered in .223 Wylde, but the lack of .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO to feed it, and then the price spikes that went along with it, made me start thinking seriously about the eventual purchase of a battle rifle chambered in one of the calibers that never seemed to dry up around here.
While you have to be careful with the loadings and velocity, an old CMP Garand would run well with quite a bit of the 150-grain ammo I kept finding on store shelves, and the CMP itself never ran out of (or raised prices on) the Greek surplus they still seem to have in stock by the boxcar load. 1903A3s can still be had, and they’ll eat almost anything to the best of my knowledge.
While AR-10 variants are generally chambered in .308 which dried up quickly, they can also be had in .243 Winchester or .260 Remington from various manufacturers (the high-end G.A. Precision GAP 10 comes to mind). Of course, the far less expensive commercial bolt guns, mounted with a mid-range-priced, low-to-mid-power scope, isn’t going to be a CQB weapon, but would work very well in an urban sniper or guerrilla sniper role.
The key takeaway from this experience is the realization that “common” cartridges are great 90% of the time, but that having a backup plan and firearm chambered in backup calibers for ammunition that seems to be more readily available in your location is a wise precaution to make.