TSA’s Ammo Purchase By The Numbers

Belted Ammo
Belted Ammo
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Montana Shooting Sports Association

Missoula, MT –-(Ammoland.com)- A recent headline shouts that the TSA will be purchasing 3.5 million rounds of ammunition.

That sounds spooky, but let’s give that figure some perspective. The fact is, it will take a lot more than 3.5 million rounds for “them” to catch up with “us.”

Consider the ammunition consumption in one shooting season in Montana.

There are six to eight active practical pistol shooting clubs in Montana that hold nationally-sanctioned matches. For our calculations, let’s use six clubs. Suppose these clubs put on only one match per month during the shooting season of April through October (most do more).

That’s seven matches. Suppose the minimum round count to complete one of these matches is 100 rounds per competitor (it’s usually more). Suppose the average attendance at these matches is 60 shooters (often more). That amounts to a quarter of a million rounds of ammunition for contestants to shoot these Montana matches in one season.

Suppose each one of these contestants expends just five rounds of ammunition in training and practice for every round fired in a match (most would do more; some as high as 30:1). We’re suddenly up to a low-ball estimate of 1.5 million rounds of ammunition expended in one shooting season in just one shooting discipline.

Then, add in other popular shooting sports, such as trap, skeet, sporting clays, bullseye, highpower, smallbore, IDPA, multi-gun, precision rifle, metallic cartridge, blackpowder, machine-gun shoots, and some I’m forgetting. On top of all that, add in hunting and unorganized recreational shooting.

Given those consumptions, the 3.5 million rounds for TSA is certainly less, maybe a lot less, than just the annual recreational ammo budget for the people of Montana, just one state. Montanans likely consume over 10 million rounds of ammo each shooting season for recreational shooting.

Now Montana is a pretty “gunny” place with a lot of shooting going on, but so are a lot of other states. I’d bet that the annual recreational civilian ammo consumption of many other states exceeds that of Montana, just because most other states have a lot more people than Montana. In fact, because of its small population, my best guess is that Montana is below average in annual, statewide ammo consumption.

But, suppose Montana is just average, at my educated guess of at least 10 million rounds per year. Multiply that by 50 states and you get an annual civilian ammo consumption in the U.S. of 500 million rounds. Suddenly the TSA purchase of 3.5 million rounds seems pretty puny.

This is not to say that hoards of federal police, increasingly unburdened by their Fourth Amendment responsibilities, using our money to buy lots of guns and ammo is not worrisome. It is. But until the senators from California and New York have their way with gun control, they have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of us.

Gary Marbut serves as President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, shoots competitively in two disciplines, practical pistol and precision rifle and is accepted in state and federal courts as an expert concerning firearms use and safety and use of force.

Gun Laws of Montana

About Montana Shooting Sports Association:MSSA is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners. Visit: www.mtssa.org

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Do you really think these agencies actually receive all of the ammunition they order? How do you budget illict foreign ammunition into the United States budget , why you lie of course . So you say TSA gets 3 million but 2 million goes say to Syrian rebels. It also creates plausible denialibilty . We didnt do it its not in our budget. Also government theft of ammunition is most likely high emptying mag at home refill at the office. I have heard police do this saying they don’t want the same first round day after day and justify theft,… Read more »

The Watcher

3.5 Million rounds is nothing compared to what the entire US Govt apparatus has been stockpiling over the last few years. Heck, they
have even got the National Weather Service stockpiling ammo.

We stopped counting when they went over 2 BILLION with a ‘B.’



In the early to mid 60s, I spent 2 months in Fort Knox, 2 months in MP school at Fort Gordon, and 31 months in Germany, and I never saw any member of the US military with anything that shot pellets or BBs …..I mean….22 caliper bullets. But I do agree with you, Steve, that I feel safer here in Indiana where we non-felons are permitted to carry and protect ourselves, than I would if I had to depend on Sotomayor for my protection.


We don’t use our tax dollars for TSA/Homeland Security to enjoy their firearms as we do. While I served 5 years active duty in the Navy, I fired 10 rounds of 22 ammo in bootcamp. Later I fired 10 more rounds of 45 ammo while out at sea “to qualify” whatever that means. That’s it. In 5 years of active duty I fired less than 25 rounds while “keeping the country safe”. Why should our expectations for DHS/TSA etc be any different!