The Prepper Journal

Bullets for Barter: Good Idea or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Do bullets make sense for bartering?

So many articles have been written on the subject of bartering for preppers from many different viewpoints. Bartering is seen by many as the natural method people will use in order to conduct commerce when the grid goes down. If the economy collapses, as some fear and our money supply disappears, people will go back to trading goods or services they have for goods and services others have. It makes sense on the face of it, but I personally don’t think we will be quickly setting up shops outside our homes and offering our wares for a long time – possibly decades after any hypothetical collapse.

In a true collapse I can certainly see the importance of bartering after SHTF. I think to facilitate bartering, it makes sense to have some items you can trade although I tend to believe the time it will take for society to first, right the ship after something as cataclysmic as a collapse could be measured in years. Most, if not all of the average prepper’s survival supplies would be gone by the time Bartertown was set up. By the time rules were established, even informally for trade you likely wouldn’t have anything left to trade anyone.

This goes down the same path as storing precious metals. I think if we have a functioning banking system after a collapse you will possibly have a place you can take your precious metals and cash them in for the local currency. I do not think you will, any time soon, sit down with your neighbor and trade him a few silver coins for a horse or a new suit. Not at least until your neighbor can take that silver somewhere and get something else of value for it. The problem I see with precious metals is that nobody will know what they are worth and everyone holding precious metals will assume they are more valuable than they truly are. Not to mention how hard it is to make change from Gold or Silver Coins. Sure there are smaller denominations, but do you have any? Will the person you are trading with have any?

Do bullets make good bartering items?

All of my preconceived notions on Bartering aside, I am writing this post today because I have heard at least one other blogger and possibly some of the commenters on our site say words to the effect of “Don’t barter Ammo because it could be used against you”. I starting thinking about that concern and wondered if I had it all wrong before. I personally have recommended ammo as a good bartering item and now there was someone who says they have a ton of experience telling me that what I was thinking was wrong.

It isn’t like I know everything, so I starting considering that perhaps this blogger was right and that I shouldn’t plan on bartering ammo in the first place but the more I thought about it, the more I feel convinced that you should be no less safe bartering ammo than you are bartering a carton of cigarettes.

I think the default position of how bullets for barter or some other items like liquor or tobacco products, is a riskier proposition neglects a few other key points to consider that I wanted to share with the readers of the Prepper Journal today.

It isn’t what you are bartering, it is how

The assumption I think many people on the Bullets are bad bartering items side of this argument make is that if someone knows you have ammo, they will barter for ammo, load their pistol, or other favorite SHTF weapon and point it right back at you. Now you are at their mercy since they have ammo and they will take everything you have and possibly rape your wife and children in front of you. Could that happen? Sure, it is possible, but if that is how you are conducting bartering then you aren’t very wise in my opinion. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have even survived long enough to make it to bartering if you were that clueless.

Maybe I am wrong, but I don't see anything remotely resembling the open air market and free trade happening for many years after a collapse.
Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see anything remotely resembling the open air market and free trade happening for many years after a collapse.

OK, so the hypothetical scenario is that we have just lived through The End of the World as we Know it. Banks closed a year ago, the government collapsed, several nukes went off somewhere in the country, but you haven’t been able to get reliable information for months. You are barely surviving because you had 2 years’ worth of supplies stored and have connected with 4 other families in a mutual assistance group. Your garden is constant work but is feeding you all nicely. The other members of the MAG have brought their own supplies and a modest homestead environment is allowing you all to live in semi-reasonable comfort and security.

Now, some stranger, maybe it is even someone you know comes to your fence. He just happens to have something you are looking for; a car battery. You place it on the multimeter and see that it still has some life in it so you ask what he is willing to trade for it. He says he will take a box of shotgun shells. Since you were a good prepper and stored up a generous supply of ammo before the collapse, this is a trade you can make and reason it is fair.

The element of risk comes into this equation from two places. First, the knowledge that you have ammunition could put you at risk from people who want more ammo and will try to take it by force. The second place is the trade you are considering right now with someone who plans to kill you with the ammo you are going to give him.

These aren’t wild stretches of imagination. I will readily concede there will be desperate people, but I think in this situation people will be just as desperate for food, medical supplies, tobacco, whiskey, livestock, basically anything of value. Sure, someone can’t’ turn around and kill you with a tomato, but if society has devolved so completely, every interaction and transaction is going to carry some amount of risk.

Don’t make bartering mistakes

I think if you have stored thousands of extra rounds of ammunition for the express purpose of bartering, that you would be a very fortunate person in the right circumstances. Of course, having a supply like that could invite someone to take it from you. Having the ammunition or the whiskey or the tobacco or toilet paper is only half of the problem. You have to set up the trade itself in a fair, safe way to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of. If you have any supplies, you will need to guard them even if you aren’t planning on using them for barter. The days of leaving the house for several hours without a guard would be over.

I would not go into any transaction like this without backup. Someone should be watching your back any time you make a trade like this. You will likely need more than one backup as someone will need to   stay with the person you are bartering with while you or someone else retrieves the ammunition that is hopefully hidden safely in your house or offsite somewhere.

The person you are bartering with should never see your supply nor know how much you have left. I think it might also be good to have someone observing from a higher vantage point, possibly hidden in the trees wearing a homemade Ghillie suite. If this sharpshooter saw the man trying to shoot you, they could step in from a couple hundred yards away and end the life of the man who was just trying to kill you.

I think bullets above almost all else would be highly valuable during a SHTF event. If you have more than you need, why not try to use them for barter? I believe with the right precautions, almost anything can be traded. Bullets immediately following a collapse will be more valuable than gold for preppers. By taking steps to ensure you don’t get taken advantage of, you can trade any extra stock you have, get things you need in return and possibly help someone live for another week.

What do you think?

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