How Much Does Ammo Cost? – 2024 Guide with Helpful Tips

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Understanding the price of ammo is important when considering the total cost of owning and training with a firearm. This guide will help you not only understand the ammo costs but also ways you can save money when buying ammo.

The average price of centerfire handgun ammo is $0.50 cents per round. The average price of centerfire rifle ammo is $0.95 cents per round. The average price of shotgun ammo is $.60 cents per round. The average price of rimfire ammo is $0.13 cents per round.

(Note that the average prices above are for training ammo in low quantities. Bulk pricing and specialty ammo will greatly affect this price)

How much does ammo cost
large amount of 9mm ammo

I have purchased and reloaded my own ammo for over 30 years. From buying one box at a time to buying thousands of rounds in bulk to buying each component for reloading, I have years of experience in seeing how the price of ammo changes over time. I also shoot in competitions and go through thousands of rounds while training.

There are many factors that go into how much ammo costs. You will learn the major driving factors below. You will also learn the detail of each ammo type so that you can make the best decision of what to buy for you.

If you have a firearm for hunting, concealed carry, home defense, or competitions, it is important to understand how to handle it safely and to train with it often. This requires a lot of ammo. There are ways to save money on ammo by using different types, buying in bulk, or reloading your own.

Before you buy a new gun, it is also good to consider the price of ammo in addition to the price of the gun.

Keep reading and you will find out how to understand the price of ammo and how to save money. Also see our favorite places to buy ammo online!

How Much Does Ammo Cost?

Below are the average prices of the most common types of training ammo.

(Update – All prices are current as of early 2024.)

Note that the “Type” column in the following tables indicate the type of bullet (weight and jacket). The “Gr” indicates the weight of the bullet and “FMJ” indicates a Full Metal Jacket bullet.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
.22LR40 Gr Lead Round Nose$0.13
9mm115 Gr FMJ$0.37
.45 ACP230 Gr FMJ$0.60
5.5655 Gr FMJ XM193$0.75
.308147 Gr FMJ$1.20
7.62×39123 Gr FMJ$0.85
20 Gauge2-3/4″ #8 Shot$0.64
12 Gauge2-3/4″ #8 Shot$0.54

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How Much Does Handgun and Pistol Ammo Cost?

Below are the average prices of the most common handgun and pistol ammo for target practice and training.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
.22LR40 Gr Lead Round Nose$0.13
380 Auto90 Gr FMJ$0.50
.38 Special125 Gr FMJ$0.60
357 Magnum142 Gr FMJ$0.80
9mm115 Gr FMJ$0.37
.40 S&W180 Gr FMJ$0.48
.45 ACP230 Gr FMJ$0.60
10mm180 Gr FMJ$0.60
500 S&W325 Gr FMJ$2.95

9mm ammo is one of the most popular calibers available today. It works well for concealed carry, home defense, and is also popular in competitions. See our guide on the best 9mm pistols for more on the guns that shoot this versatile round.

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How Much Does Rifle Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common rifle ammo for target practice and training.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
.22LR40 Gr Lead Round Nose$0.13
.223 Rem55 Gr FMJ$0.70
.24375 Gr JHP$1.70
5.5655 Gr FMJ XM193$0.75
.30-06150 Gr FMJ$1.25
30-30150 Gr SP$1.55
.308149 Gr FMJ$1.20
.300 Win Mag150 Gr SP$1.8
7.62×39123 Gr FMJ$0.85

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How Much Does Shotgun Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common Shotgun ammo for target practice and training.

GaugeShot TypePrice/Round
122-3/4″ #8 Shot$0.54
202-3/4″ #8 Shot$0.64
282-3/4″ #8 Shot$0.64
.4102-1/2″ #8 Shot$1.00

How Much Does Concealed Carry Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common concealed carry ammo for handguns. “JHP” stands for Jacketed Hollow Point.

Read our full guide on the best concealed carry handguns to understand what caliber is best for you. Also review complete concealed carry guide and our holster guides for the best holsters for your gun.

Also see our full PMC SFX 9mm ammo review for a low cost concealed carry option.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
380 Auto90 Gr JHP$1.15
9mm124 Gr JHP$1.05
9mmPMC SFX 124 Gr SFHP$0.68
.40 S&W180 Gr JHP$1.10
.45 ACP230 Gr JHP$1.5

How Much Does Home Defense Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common home defense ammo for Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns. Note that the 5.56 FTX ammo is Hornady’s “Flex Tip” that is a type of hollow point bullet.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
9mm147 Gr JHP$0.85
.40 S&W180 Gr JHP$1.10
.45 ACP230 Gr JHP$1.30
12 Gauge2-3/4″ 00 Buck$2.5
20 Gauge2-3/4″ #3 Buckshot$1.8
5.5673 gr FTX$1.55

How Much Does Hunting Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common hunting ammo for Rifles and Shotguns.

CaliberHunt TypePrice/Round
.22LRSmall Game, 40 Gr HP$0.16
.243Big Game, 100 Gr SP$1.45
30-30Big Game, 150 Gr JHP$1.55
.30-06Big Game, 180 Gr SP$1.75
.308Big Game, 180 Gr SP$1.60
.300 Win MagBig Game, 180 Gr SP$2.50
20 GaugeWaterfowl, 3″ #2 Steel$1.05
20 GaugeBig Game, 2-3/4″ Slug$2.25
12 GaugeWaterfowl, 3″ #3 Steel$1.05
12 GaugeBig Game, 2-3/4″ Slug$2.00
12 GaugeTurkey, 3″ #4 Shot$1.60

How Much Does Competition Ammo Cost

Below are the average prices of the most common competition and match ammo for Handguns, Rifles, and Shotguns. Note that the handgun “TSJ” bullet type stands for “Total Synthetic Jacket” and is Federal’s Syntech Polymer coated match ammo.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
9mm130 Gr TSJ$0.54
.40 S&W205 Gr TSJ$0.56
.308168 Gr Match$2.15
.300 Win Mag195 Gr Match$3.25
12 Gauge2-3/4″ #7.5 Steel$0.64

How Much Does AR15 Ammo Cost?

Below are the average prices of AR15 ammo. Note that AR15s are available in various calibers and we have listed some of the most popular. Always be sure to purchase the correct ammo for your rifle.

CaliberBullet TypePrice/Round
5.5655 Gr FMJ XM193$0.75
5.5662 Gr FMJ M855$0.73
.223 Rem55 Gr FMJ$0.70
5.5673 gr FTX$1.55
300 AAC Blackout147 Gr FMJ$1.10
6.5 Grendel123 Grain Match$1.60

Check More Prices of Ammo

If you did not find your caliber listed, check out Lucky Gunner for current prices and a complete selection of all the calibers available to purchase.

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Factors That Affect Ammo Prices

There are many factors that affect ammo prices. Outside of the cost of making ammo, other outside influences can affect the prices dramatically.

Handgun, pistol, rifle, and shotgun ammo

Below are the major items that influence the price of ammo.

  • Caliber
  • Manufacturer
  • Raw Material Costs
  • Raw Material Supply
  • Type
  • Seasonal Demand
  • Political Demand
  • Event Demand

Caliber

The most obvious of these is caliber. Smaller caliber ammo has smaller bullet sizes. A .22LR cartridge is almost always cheaper than a larger cartridge. There is less raw material in a smaller cartridge, and they are cheaper to make.

This will remain true unless the other factors listed above push the demand up or the supply down of one particular cartridge. We saw this in 2012 when panic buying reduced the supply of .22LR cartridges.

Manufacturer

Who the ammo manufacturer is and where they are located affects the price of ammo. Some manufacturers are known to produce high-quality ammo and can demand higher prices.

Manufacturing costs can be up to 30% of the price of ammo, so the location of the manufacturing facility has a large effect. Facilities in low-cost countries typically have lower labor costs and fewer regulations than more developed countries.

The quality of some low-cost manufacturers can be questionable. If you are depending on your ammo in a critical situation like home defense or concealed carry, go with a reputable manufacturer. Hornady and Federal Premium are two reputable brands.

Raw Material Costs

The physical cost of the material to produce ammo can also have a large effect on the price of ammo. We saw this after the Covid pandemic when inflation drove raw material prices up dramatically. The price of lead went up nearly 25% percent from 2019 to 2022.

Ammo contains common metals that are used in manufacturing many common items like automobiles, construction, and consumer products. Overall demand for these goods in general will drive up raw material costs and, in turn, affect ammo prices.

Raw Material Supply

The supply of raw materials and components can drive up the price of ammo. We saw this during the Covid pandemic when the supply of many items dropped because the output of factories was reduced as people stayed at home. 

Ammo factories were unable to get the raw materials they needed to produce the normal amount of ammo. This affected the price of ammo since the overall supply was reduced. 

Some factories receive components like primers from other manufacturers. This adds another step to the manufacturing process, and supply disruptions have more of an effect.

Type

There are many different types of ammo that are made for the same caliber. Different bullet types, different case materials, and different levels of manufacturing tolerances all affect the price of ammo.

Bullet types can range from a simple round piece of lead to a copper-jacketed hollow point. A hollow point bullet, for example, requires more raw materials, and the manufacturing process is more complicated. This results in it being more expensive.

In order for a firearm to be very accurate from one round to the next, those rounds need to be as close to identical as possible. The weight of the bullet, the amount of powder, and the overall length of the finished round all affect the consistency and placement of the shots.

Ammo that is made for competitions often called match grade ammo, is made to stricter tolerances and will be more expensive than ammo made to wider tolerances.

Seasonal Demand

In some cases, such as hunting ammo, the demand for a certain type of ammo can increase due to the season. This can be due to a certain time of year or hunting season. For example, before turkey season opens, demand for turkey hunting ammo will rise and could affect the price if the demand is high enough.

The best time to buy ammo that is seasonal is just after the season has ended and the demand has dropped. Retailers often try to clear out their inventory of seasonal ammo when the season is over and will reduce the prices.

Political Demand

Firearms and ammo are a big part of politics in the United States. In the past, we have seen presidential elections both drive up demand and prices as well as the opposite.

In 2016, when it was thought that the Democratic candidate would win, demand skyrocketed. Manufacturers, in turn, increased production even more to fill the demand. In 2017 after the Republican candidate won instead, the demand relaxed, and excess inventory was suddenly on the market. This caused ammo prices to fall back to prices lower than before.

Event Demand

Events in the news can sometimes have an effect on prices, but usually not as much as the items above. However, news of a major event such as a war or other global events could suddenly drive prices up very drastically overnight.

I recall when the news of Covid in the US began and lockdowns started, ammo demand surged, and supply stopped. There were many months when the shelves for ammo at my local sporting goods store were totally empty. I would expect something similar when another global event occurs in the future.

To prevent panic buying and paying high prices, always make sure to keep a minimum amount on hand that you feel comfortable with. The same can be said of food and even toilet paper! Treat your ammo the same as we discuss in our food supply guide.


What Are the Components of Ammo?

Outside of muzzleloaders, the main type of ammo for most guns today is cartridges. Overall, these can fall into a few different types.

  • Rimfire Handgun and Rifle Ammo
  • Centerfire Handgun and Rifle Ammo
  • Shotgun Ammo

There are some differences between Handgun and Rifle Ammo, but the overall components are the same. In general, Rifle ammo will be more expensive than Handgun or Pistol ammo.

The main components of ammo today are:

  • Primer
  • Case
  • Powder
  • Bullet 
Ammo components, primer, case, powder, and bullet
Primer, Brass Case, Powder, and the Bullet make up the components of ammo

To fire the bullet, the hammer or striker of a firearm hits the primer. The primer ignites, causing the power to burn quickly. The expanding gas from the small explosion forces the bullet down the barrel and out of the gun.

Rimfire Ammo

Rimfire Ammo includes smaller caliber ammo that is fired by the firearm’s hammer striking the rim of the case. The most common rimfire ammo is the .22LR.

.22Lr Ammo
.22LR Ammo

Rimfire cartridges do not have a separate primer. The primer material is placed inside the case before the powder. The main difference between rimfire and centerfire ammo is rimfire ammo cannot be reloaded. 

Rimfire cases are typically made from brass and can still be recycled, though. If you shoot a lot of .22 rounds you could consider taking them to a scrap dealer to make a few dollars and keep your range clean.

Centerfire Ammo

Centerfire ammo has four components, as shown above. The ammo for modern handguns, pistols, and rifles today that are not .22s is centerfire ammo. The quick way to identify centerfire is the round primer in the center of the case opposite the bullet.

Rimfire ammo and centerfire ammo
.22LR Rimfire on the left, 9mm Centerfire on the right

After firing, the spent primer can be removed from centerfire ammo. The case can then be reloaded (depending on the material of the case), which can be big cost savings if you shoot a lot.

Shotgun Ammo

Instead of firing a single bullet like handguns and rifles, shotguns fire multiple lead or steel balls, or “shot.” Shotgun ammo is a circular tube, but instead of a metal case, it has a metal and plastic case.

The metal end of the case contains the primer and powder. The plastic end of the case contains the metal shot. In between the powder and shot is a plastic divider called a “wad”. The wad keeps the powder and shot separate and helps to generate pressure in the chamber to quickly shoot the shot out of the barrel.

In general, the basic principle of all ammo is the same. The primer ignites the powder, and the burning powder forces the projectile out of the barrel.


Bullet Types and How They Affect the Ammo Price

There are many different bullet types available. These are the most common ones that are available to the public that you will see sold at retail locations.

Full Metal Jacket Bullets

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets are the most common type available today. They have a soft lead core surrounded by a harder metal jacket. The harder jacket allows the bullet to pass through the barrel without deforming as much as it would if it had no coating.

Since it does not deform, the FMJ bullet is more accurate. It also does not leave behind pieces of lead in the barrel that can cause a barrel to “foul” and fill with lead over time. FMJ bullets also penetrate their target deeper since they do not deform as much once they impact.

FMJ bullets are good for training and practice since they are cheaper than most other bullet types, and there is no concern about how they penetrate a target.

In many states, it is illegal to hunt with FMJ bullets since they do not stop in the game animal. They may pass on through an animal, potentially hitting another, or continue to a populated area. They could also just injure an animal and not bring them down unless placed very precisely.

In general, FMJ bullets are not good for concealed carry or home defense for this same reason.

Full Metal Jacket Ammo, 9mm, 5.56, 300BLK
Examples of FMJ Ammo

Hollow Point Bullets

Hollow Point bullets are FMJ bullets, except they have a “hollow” area or cavity in the point. These are sometimes labeled JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) bullets.

As I mentioned, FMJ bullets penetrate their target deeper since they do not deform much on impact. This can be an issue, especially in hunting and concealed carry ammo. When hunting or in self-defense situations, you want the bullet to stop and not carry on through the target.

Hollow-point bullets solve this problem. When they hit a target, the hollow area causes the bullet to expand and slow down. This both delivers more energy to the target, and potentially keeps them from traveling through the target.

Hollow Point bullets are one of the most expensive bullet types.

Hollow Point Ammo
Hollow Point Ammo

Soft Point Bullets

Soft point bullets (SP) are similar to hollow point bullets. Instead of a cavity in the nose of the bullet, they have a bare lead point. You could also think of these as a “half” FMJ bullet.

The metal jacket covers the bullet to provide all the benefits of accuracy as it travels down and out of the barrel. The soft lead point allows the bullet to expand upon impact to provide some of the benefits of an expanding hollow point bullet.

Soft Point bullets are less expensive than hollow points but more expensive than FMJs. They are a popular and very common hunting bullet.

Soft Point Bullet
Soft Point Ammo

Plated Bullets

Plated bullets are a middle ground between FMJ bullets and just plain lead bullets. A plated bullet is a lead bullet that is simply plated with either a metal or a polymer coating. Plated bullets can’t reach the same velocities that FMJ bullets do, so they are better suited for handgun ammo.

Plated bullets are popular with pistol competitors that reload their own ammo. I mainly use polymer-coated bullets when I reload my competition ammo.

You can find some polymer-coated ammo for sale by some manufacturers. Since it is sold as competition ammo, the price is usually not any lower than FMJ ammo.

Polymer Coated Bullet
Polymer Coated Ammo

Armor Piercing Bullets

While armor piercing sounds like something that just the military would use, you can purchase this ammo in some states.

The most popular armor-piercing ammo is the 5.56mm XM855 (or just M855). These rounds are commonly called “green-tip” since they have a painted or plastic green tip on the bullet. These bullets are similar to FMJ bullets but have a small steel core inside. Once the bullet strikes a target, the hard steel core continues to further penetrate the target.

This bullet is mainly used by the military to penetrate hard targets. Some data suggest that this bullet can penetrate 1/2 inch of steel at 100 meters. For soft targets, this bullet is less effective than an FMJ bullet since it is more likely to pass through the target. It also has a less effective range than an FMJ bullet.

Green tip 5.56 ammo is not allowed at many gun ranges since it will damage backstops and steel targets. There is really not much this round can be used for except military-type operations.

Armor Piercing Bullet, Green tip XM855 and XM193
5.56 XM193 and XM855 ammo

Bullet Weight

Within each caliber, there are also often different bullet weights you can purchase. For example, 9mm ammo comes in 115-grain, 125-grain, 135-grain, and 147-grain versions.

Since heavier bullets contain more lead and metal, they are more expensive.

The weight of a bullet affects the speed of a bullet. In general, heavier bullets travel slower. For anyone who uses a firearm with a suppressor, this is important. A bullet that travels less than the speed of sound makes less noise than one traveling at a velocity greater than the speed of sound.

For handgun competitors, a bullet that is heavier will have less felt recoil. However, the action will travel slower. This is a personal preference, and something that most people don’t realize or feel until they have shot thousands of rounds over the course of a year or two. In my experience, I settled on a 135-grain 9mm bullet after about two years of training and testing.

For most people, bullet weight is not a huge concern. Lighter bullets will cost less than heavier bullets. If you carry a small, concealed carry gun, heavier hollow point bullets are usually the best choice. I recommend buying a small quantity of a few different types and training with them to see if you can even tell the difference. Most can’t.

Shotgun Loads

Shotgun shells come in various sizes and amounts of shot. A smaller shot is a higher number, and a larger shot is a lower number (#8 shot is smaller than #4 shot). In general, smaller shot is best for bird hunting, medium-sized shot is good for small game hunting, and large shot is best for home defense and big game.

The shot can also either be lead or steel, with steel being more expensive. For waterfowl hunting, many states have made lead shot illegal since they can poison birds and other animals.

Shotgun shells can also have one single bullet-type projectile called a slug. These are mainly for deer hunting and home defense and are usually the most expensive. Some states only allow slugs for deer hunting, with buckshot being illegal.

Shotgun Shells, slug and buckshot
12 Gauge Slug and 00 Buckshot

Case Materials and How They Affect the Ammo Price

The cases of Handgun, Pistol, and Rifle ammo can be made from various materials. Common case materials can include:

  • Brass
  • Steel
  • Nickel Plated Brass
  • Aluminum

Brass is the most common and, overall, the best. It performs well and can be reloaded multiple times. 

Steel Case ammo

Steel cases are usually the cheapest. However, they cannot be reloaded.

If you do not care about reloading your own ammo, why not just use steel? The main reason is that steel ammo can be less reliable and cause your gun to malfunction.

When a cartridge is fired, it expands and seals itself against the chamber of the gun. This forces most of the unburned powder and debris out of the end of the barrel.

Steel cartridges are not as malleable as brass and do not expand and seal as well as brass does. This results in some of the unburned powder and debris blowing back into the gun’s action and trigger mechanism. Over time this can result in malfunctions if you do not clean your gun regularly. See our full guide on how often you should clean your gun.

There is usually a big debate between steel vs. brass cases. For training and just range time, steel is fine. If you would rather use brass and reload your ammo, that is fine too. Just don’t use steel case ammo for critical situations where you are depending on your gun to function properly.

Nickel Plated Brass Case Ammo

Nickel Plated Brass Ammo is usually found in premium ammo. High-end concealed carry and law enforcement ammo will sometimes have these cases.

Nickel Plated Brass is more corrosion-resistant than plain brass and performs well in demanding applications. A law enforcement officer that carries every day through all weather conditions is a good example. If you conceal carry every day, it is also the best choice.

The only disadvantage is they cannot be reloaded as often as brass. The nickel coating makes the case not as soft as just plain brass. In my experience, I can get one or two reloads before the case starts to crack. 

Brass and Nickel Ammo Cases
Brass Case and Nickel Plated Brass Case

Aluminum Case Ammo

Aluminum Cases are cheaper than brass but are not as durable. They are only available in pistol calibers as they can’t handle the pressure of rifle calibers. Like steel, they can’t be reloaded either. 

Aluminum case ammo will run cleaner than steel case ammo. However, the availability of aluminum case ammo is limited. The price of Aluminum has risen considerably over the past few years. This has resulted in making the cost advantage over brass negligible.


Is it Cheaper to Reload Ammo?

If you shoot a lot and can recover your spent brass cases, reloading is certainly cheaper for training ammo. Most competition shooters reload their own ammo for a few reasons.

  • It is cheaper than buying factory ammo.
  • They can adjust the ammo to their gun and personal preferences.
  • Handgun shooters can make ammo closer to the legal power factor, reducing the recoil of the gun. This allows faster shooting.
  • For accuracy shooters, they can control the consistency of their ammo.

I can reload a 9mm competition round for about 0.16 cents per round (not counting brass cases). This compares to about 0.54 cents per round for Federal Syntech. If I shoot 1000-2000 rounds in a month, I can save over $750.

There is an initial investment in reloading. A reloading press can be between $150 – $750, depending on the flexibility and speed of the press.

I have a Dillon XL750 machine and can make a round about every 3-4 seconds or so once it is set up. Some presses can run as fast as one round per second with automatic bullet and case feeders.

Ammo Reloading Press
My Dillon Reloading Press

Is it Cheaper to Buy Ammo in Bulk?

Yes, it is certainly cheaper to buy ammo in bulk. For training ammo, this is the best way to buy it. In some states, you can buy ammo in bulk online as well if you can’t find it locally.

For self-defense and hunting ammo, it usually doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy a huge amount of it (unless you want to be really prepared). Use cheaper FMJ ammo to train with and save the more expensive hollow points or soft points for when you really need them.

For example, one box (qty 50) of 9mm ammo is about 0.39 cents per round, but a 1000-round case is about 0.28 cents per round. This is a savings of $115 just by buying in bulk.

My favorite place to buy ammo in bulk is from Bulk Munitions. They ship fast and have alot of good training ammo in stock.

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Now You Know How Much Ammo Costs

This guide gives you an idea of what to watch for and the best way to buy your ammo. When you check the prices of guns, you should also consider the ammo price. If you plan to train a lot or compete, the ammo cost could be considerable.

Buying ammo online is super easy and a great way to save money. My favorite places are Palmetto State Armory, Lucky Gunner and Bulk Munitions.

You can also compare the latest ammo prices with Bulk Cheap Ammo.

Check out our other articles on how you can defend your home and family. Also, consider putting together a get home bag to prepare for emergencies and survive anything that life throws at you. Check out our review on the best gun safes and buying tips on what safe not to buy.

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.