Scarcity of ammunition after an apocalypse?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Sn1p3r187, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. Sn1p3r187

    Sn1p3r187 Carolinian Shaolin Monk

    Apr 7, 2014
    Especially in the Fallout universe? Me and my friend were having a debate on if guns were going to become obsolete 100 years after an apocalyptic scenario. Its easier to make a gun than it is the ammunition, in this case smokeless powder ammunition. The problem doesn't lie in the casing or bullet itself, its the primer that causes that chemical reaction to generate heat and send the bullet down the barrel. I argued that its not impossible to make bullet primer but its just very difficult. Because making requires a hell of a lot of knowledge and chemistry, some trial and error, and even a few manuals if people still know how to read 100 years after that apocalyptic scenario. And it also requires industry and by industry- the tools and machines to make the primer which would mean old factories and maybe new ones to help rebuild civilization. But also how are they going to distribute the ammunition? My friend insists that we'll lose the knowledge for such things like smokeless ammunition and we'll go back to using flintlocks , rifled muskets, and cap and percussion revolvers and rifles. And if not those then primitive weapons like spears, bows, and swords. And simple black gun powder is extremely easy to make. I wanna know your opinions on this. Do you think it would possible to keep manufacturing modern ammunition and guns a century after the end of civilization?
  2. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    There's some statistic floating about the amount of ammo produced in the U.S on a weekly basis compared to it's population or some such. I remember it being shockingly high.

    You must also remember that in Fallout, there are people actively making more ammunition (Gun Runners).
  3. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Fallout has the technology to make it. Gun Runners and such. Or the BoS or the NCR, Shii and so on and so forth.

    Realistically speaking? Doesn't matter how much amunition there is now. Ammunition would suffer the same issue like fuel/gas. Pretty much anything that is a refined product really. At some point it becomes useless, even with perfect storage. I think most gas and fuel would be even after a few years useless for cars. With ammunition it really depends on the proper storage, but probably not 100 years.

    But I am not sure how much durability plays a role in the Fallout world. I mean you have computers, robots and all sorts of things runing years, decades even after the apocalypse.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  4. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    Well, it depends on the severity of the apocalypse in question.
    An all out nuclear war could very much be an extinction event, if there's enough smoke produced to significantly reduce insolation for extended periods of time. There are some theories that even a small scale nuclear war could have a significant effect on global climate. In that case I think food and people would run out faster than ammunition, especially if the left-over ammunition helps reducing the amount of people...
    It all boils down to preserving information. Percussion caps and even somewhat modern primers are possible with 19th century technology. Not much industrialisation is needed, just the knowledge and a minimum of infrastructure. The knowledge can pose quite a problem, I think, because modern data storage is redundant, but fragile. A big nuclear war would be disastrous for hard drives. Still, there are so many libraries in the world that there will be many books left, albeit somewhat more scarce.
    Relatively modern ammunition can be produced with 19th century technology. Of course, if nobody bothers to create any sort of infrastructure and immediately puts on spiky football gear to rape and pillage the wasteland, then making ammo will be hard, but I think ammo, at least in somewhat lower quality, could be produced quite easily. So, maybe don't rely on AR15s that don't even work properly with perfect ammunition, and take a good ol' revolver with you instead ;)
  5. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    We'd be able to make it just fine. We made fairly decent primers 100 years ago.
    It's just that quality would vary a lot depending on who's making it. With a total collapse, we'd most likely have to go back to mercury fulminate or potassium chlorate based primers, which are kinda unstable and dangerous. With modern primers you can more or less throw your ammo against a rock and unless the primer gets hit just right, nothing will happen. With mercury based primers that would not be the case. They also have a much shorter shelf life and are corrosive.

    The other components of a cartridge are rather easy to make in small quantities, even in more primitive settings. The biggest issue aside from the primers would be consistency in the ammo required for making a semi-automatic or fully automatic weapon cycle reliably. I suspect you'd see a lot more manual action weapons (pump, bolt, lever,...) once the modern production ammo has dried up.
  6. Courier

    Courier Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Apr 10, 2011
    You just grow more at the bullet farm.
    • [Like] [Like] x 3
  7. TheWesDude

    TheWesDude Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 25, 2005
    there are a lot of issues to keep in mind.

    the US does not actually have the factories to make a lot of types of ammo. not to mention it isnt a circumstance of input raw materials here and out comes ammunition there.

    it would be a lot of stops for multiple parts and some things are made in 2-3 places in the US but shipped to all the other places that do other parts of the process.
  8. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    For large scale production, sure.
    But aside from primers (and their unstable composition), there's nothing hugely troubling. Materials are quite plentiful, really. Just tear down other shit & recycle it.
  9. The_WitchDoctor

    The_WitchDoctor It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 8, 2015
    Dude change your font. Every time you post it hurts my eyes.
  10. The Doctor

    The Doctor Veteran of The Divide

    Jun 6, 2015
    Alternate universe using technology we never followed up on
    Video game logic (Rule of cool, mostly)

    I just roll with it

    There's little gremlins or whatnot that randomly put bottle caps and ammo in random lockers and boxes every few months
    How else do you explain why there's so much stuff to loot in an area that has a massive human population for 100-200 years?
  11. ChildServices

    ChildServices Banned

    May 22, 2015
    Last I checked, collectors are still using surplus ammunition made during WW1 for a bunch of guns.
    There's also that guy in FO1, I think he was at Adytum, and he knew how to make gunpowder and primers.

    In a country like Australia you're probably never going to see a gun again after 100 years, but in America I doubt that knowledge's just gonna disappear unless the commies have their way and get rid of guns.
  12. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    There's plenty SMLEs and shotguns in Australia. Besides, get me to a hardware store and I'll make you a fairly decent piperifle/shotgun in 15 minutes time.
  13. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Another factor to consider that I didn't mention before is that Old World America in the Fallout Universe was likely very trigger happy and paranoid of Communist invasion, you can pretty much see that clearly from what little insight into Pre-War society we have. Stuff like 10mm Pistols stuffed into people's desks and families having military grade weaponry stored in their basements gives you an idea of just how gun-friendly the Pre-War U.S.A was. I'd imagine a society like that would probably have a lot of spare ammunition, especially if they were worried about a homeland invasion by the Chinese.
  14. ChildServices

    ChildServices Banned

    May 22, 2015
    Mmm, yeah sure. But this is just under two decades after the gun ban, and civilisation still exists here despite what some may think.
  15. Hardboiled Android

    Hardboiled Android A Smooth-Skin

    Jun 7, 2015
    Bullets May last a century, but most guns would probably begin to fall apart within two generations, especially considering how much fighting will be done in the earlier days of an apocalypse. As the generations go on guns would grow rarer and rarer, becoming more and more important in battles as a functional super weapon. Over time useless old ones will probably become fetishized, or becoming legendary, totemic symbols. I'd imagine bullets keep longer then a gun just sitting around does, so you may get situations where a group has amp massive storage of bullets but no guns to fire them out of, or not the right type of gun.
  16. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    Dec 11, 2013
    Why couldn't these groups just make new guns and new bullets? Humans have used firearms of some sort for at least five centuries now; it seems unlikely to me that humanity as a whole would completely lose the knowledge of how to make powder and guns, and even if we did, there's no reason why we wouldn't rediscover it.

    Maybe in the wake of an extreme apocalyptic event that left the human race with greatly reduced access to energy and resources guns would be more primitive than what we have today (something along the lines of old school black powder rifles and pistols, perhaps) but I doubt they would disappear.
  17. Hardboiled Android

    Hardboiled Android A Smooth-Skin

    Jun 7, 2015
    Because there are very few people who know how to cast steel on a small scale in the modern world? Without electricity Andy infrastructure the plants that do that won't wor, and those few artisanal blacksmiths would become incredibly sought after, though the odds of many of them surviving are also rare. Humanity would probably get its shit together within say two centuries, but a full or even partial nuclear exchange would bring about the end of civilization as we know it and modern human culture. A collapse into barbarism won't be immediate but it will happen.
  18. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Not really. Populations will have dwindled, so there is less people around less resources, the pressure is off.
    When we say stuff like "bombed back to the stone age", and actually mean it, we have to imagine a stone age where we have memories and blueprints of everything modern.
    Things could start to improve in just years, much less than centuries. People don't need 200 years to start going through wreckage, blueprints, shovels and hammers and nails, and tidy up a place.
    It takes a week to clear a site, a month to build a camp, and by next year you're growing carrots.

    The whole bandits raiding, water-warring thing is something that looks very good in movies/games/big tales, but in reality... people die slowly and silently of thirst and hunger, and those who survive, they simply live on, growing carrots.
    (oh and conventional wars of course, but you don't need an apocalypse for that)
  19. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Uh, actually no, people die pretty fast from thirst at least, already 2 days without water can be pretty dangerous, not to mention the side effects of dehydration. Getting clean and fresh water isnt as easy as it seems! Particularly if we are talking about something like a global nuclear war.

    There is no doubt that after such an event the most valuable resource would be water. At least for a short time. And only very few people actually know how to survive under such conditions. Most of us are used to calling 911 when there is an issue. Not to know how to check for clean water, to hunt your food or build your shelters.
  20. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    I'm speaking relatively. Slow in relation to a violent, barbarian-enduced death. My point is that people often wonder how spectacular the future will be, will it be 100 spectacular, 200 spectacular or 1000 spectacular? Maybe the option is... 15 spectacular, about as spectacular as things are right now. Remember, it's a big world - we are "pre-apocalypse" right now, but we still count people in the jungle and people in Darfur.

    People will look for water, sure.
    But will they wear viking helmets, car-tires, and adopt awesome wasteland cyber-punk nicknames in order to find water? Most likely not. It'll probably be a bunch of boring ass digging of deep wells, or long trips to the nearest water-hole, stuff like that. Migrations.

    You know, the boring predictable side of the end of civilisation... :D

    (the fact that a majority will die of thirst etc goes without saying. I'm just saying that society will find a way to assimilate itself, and go back to a safe life of routines, even if the routines are pure survival. This means that only a very small minority of normal people will venture out and form pirate gangs, "raiders", all those post-apo tropes, and most likely just live like jungle/stone-age/plains/nomads... a bit anticlimactic, sure... not much of an "end of the world" either, since a re-started society means things will soon be back on track again (at a much smaller and more dispersed scale, obviously), including the manufacturing of ammunition)
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015