In the context of Survivalism, your firearms constitute either Defensive or Working capabilities.
Presumably, any Survivalist has long been in a state of readiness as regards their firearms, ammunition, and gunsmithing needs. Handloading is the most reliable mode of control most of us have had to assure quality and accurate ammunition for our weapons. The Survivalist has most likely approached their firearms selection with most critical determination being the cartridge selection. Defensive Rifles being most critical, likely their choices have centered on the .223/5.56x45, .308/7.62x51, and .30-06 Springfield or variants based on those ctg cases.
Makes the most sense.
If you want an AR-15 that fires a hundred grain bullet, it makes sense to look at the benefits of the 6x45; a necked up .223 case firing 6mm/.243 diameter bullets. The variants based on the .308win and .30-06spg are about the most popular cartridges going. Surplus brass and case efficiencies are the main benefits. Sure, there are more effective cartridges to select, but most of these will require specific brass that can be hard to acquire. Not so with the 6mm-08 (.243win), 6.5-08 (.260rem), 7mm-08, .338-08, and .358win. Even longer established are the .25-06, .270win, .280rem, .8mm-06, .338-06, and .35Whelen.
Not like we are intending to shoot prairie dogs or rock squirrels with our defensive rifles. While they will work to take a ground hog or gopher that is raiding your vegetable plot, with exception of the .223, a .308 or .30-06 with 150 to 180gr bullet is way too much... A .243win or .260rem though is a fine tool for varminting. Neck down your .308 brass and you are in business.
Don't Handload? While times are tough in the acquisition of ammunition dept, and getting tough for handloading tools and components; you may still have time to setup an effective loading bench...
The Lee Loader is a basic tool that is self-contained and capable of slowly producing very fine precision ammunition. Cost is about .$30 for a Lee Loader in many popular chamberings. Get a Lee Loader for your most basic rifles and hanguns; some bullets of correct caliber (diameter), primers, and smokeless powder and you have an ability to recycle your empty ctg cases. Bullet casting can make you even further self-reliant by producing your own general purpose rifle bullets and exceptional handgun slugs.
Ebay, Gunbroker.com, numerous gun forums on the net are all great sources for locating handloading gear; often at large discount.
If you're going to load your own ammo, may as well make it the best you can. A handloader's scale will give you many more options than the dipper that Lee includes with the Lee Loader. A single-stage press or progressive loading machine costs anywhere from about $50 for a Lee press to over $1000 for an automated Dillon machine. The Lee Anniversary kit costs about $100 and provides the basic single-stage press, scale, powder measure, shellholders, their loading manual and a priming tool. This is about the best value for loading gear on the market.
With a scale, press and loading dies for each cartridge you need to make ammo for you can setup a real facility to make better ammunition than you can/could purchase from any of the commercial makers.
Sierra bullets, Hornady and Nosler are the primary bulletmakers for daily use with Sierra being most spendy. Boat Tail Soft Point hunting bullets will serve for longrange precision purposes. Berger and Lapua may be more highly esteemed, but try finding any these days...
Winchester brass or Lake City once-fired will perform superbly in any defensive rifle. Primer choice is critical for a semi-auto rifle. The Remington 7-1/2 benchrest primer works superbly in .223 loads, and Winchester Lg Rifle is the choice for .308win or .30-06 class cases.
As far as powder selection, semi-auto rifles aren't too tolerant of high pressures; so you don't load to get the most velocity; you load a mid-range load and go for accuracy. Varget and Reloader 15, along with IMR 4064 and many other powders are most suitable for defensive handloads in the AR-15, M1a, and M1 Garand.
Might begin asking guys for their empty brass when you're at the range. Probably won't be as many throw-aways as before, but scrounging for brass is a tradition for handloaders. Free brass is highly esteemed. Of course, if you're loading for match quality and not working on the cheap, a bulk pack or two of Winchester cases gives you a Known Quality Factor that aids your efforts.
Jeff Cooper wrote a column for Mel Tappan's Personal Survival Letter in the late 70s entitled, Ballistic Wampum. Cooper was prescient about the times we're now living and he foresaw a time when ammunition would have currency status; at least out West where men are still men (etc...).
My position is that if you need ammunition NOW, the best solution is to buy the components and tools to be able to make what you will need.
Components make a very good investment. Hollowpoint pistol bullets, match and BTSP rifle bullets will always be in demand and retain their value. Worth even more to you if you can use them to assemble your own rounds. Primers might be the golden-ticket. Pretty tiny, hard to remake or recycle. cheap enough to buy 1000 for under $40... Can't make a round go Bang wihout a primer... large pistol and large rifle primers are likely the most versatile. Small rifle necessary for .223 rounds.
As far as powders go... Unique is a standby for shotgun, handgun mild loads, and lead bullet low velocity loads for most rifles. Win 296, 2400 are great choices for heavy revolver loads. For rifles, Varget or Reloader 15 are very versatile. Heavy loads in .30-06 and some magnum ctgs will do great with IMR 4350 or IMR 4831, Remember that 4350 and slower powders are NOT for use in any defensive semi-auto.
Study a loading manual or go to hodgdon.com and study their data online. Powders that are versatile are what you want to consider unless you are committed to your .338 Lapua or .50BMG.
Gunbroker.com has a search-by-state feature that might help you meet local sellers. if you can't buy what you need today, but find versatile components at good price, you might think of acquiring goods for trade or outright sale.
Check the archived articles for more info on handloading.,,,
Til next time.