Question of the Day: What Does DHS Want with All that Ammo?

Our diligent servants at the Department of Homeland Security number somewhere around 200,000. That was at last count, anyway. And as businessinsider.com reports, they’ve just placed an order for 450 million rounds of fo-tay cal Federal Premium ammo over the next five years from ATK. They’ve also got an RFB out for another 175 million rounds of .223 because they own a couple of rifles, too. Figure that at least a third – and that’s probably way conservative – of those people our tax dollars are supporting are IT geeks, clerical types, maintenance staff, administrators or some other breed of gibbering desk monkey who wouldn’t know a gun if you pointed one at them. That leaves . . .

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 132,000 people who might some day, for some reason, somehow conceivably have cause to actually hold a handgun. At most. Which translates to about 3,400 rounds of ammo each or 680 rounds per year. And that’s just for pistols. So what gives? Why is DHS stockpiling all that lead?

69 Responses to Question of the Day: What Does DHS Want with All that Ammo?

  1. avatarMichael B says:

    Maybe they’re trying to drive prices of ammo up for people who aren’t government employees? Or they’re expecting something nasty to happen in the near future and want to be prepared. Who knows?

    All I know is that I don’t like the looks of it. At all.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    Why is DHS stockpiling all that lead?

    So they’ll have some lead when the EPA bans it? To get a volume discount? Because some dope hit the wrong keys on a computer and typed 450 million instead of 450 boxes? Because DHS has more money than it knows what to do with? Or are they planning to arm a Mexican cartel because they took Los Zetas minus three in the ATF-DHS pool?

  3. avatarDon says:

    Probably anticipating the quadrennial ammo shortage we all fall for every election year.

    -D

  4. avatarBrian says:

    Thats 50 rounds per estimated armed agent per month. I am not obligated to train and I shoot more than that in a month.

  5. avatarChas says:

    Glad to know that my tax dollars are being spent to keep me from getting ammo.

  6. avatarMatt Gregg says:

    Did the mexican cartels run out of ammo or something?

  7. avatarGS650G says:

    In two calibers only, that’s the strange part. Or maybe not.

  8. avatarJohn says:

    According to the article I read the 450 million rounds is ALL hollow point. Very few people do all their training with hollow points :-)

    That is one H*ll of a lot of killing power.

  9. avatarJohn says:

    “ATK was the incumbent and won the contract with its HST bullet, which has proven itself in the field. The special hollow point effectively passes through a variety of barriers and holds its jacket in the toughest conditions. HST is engineered for 100-percent weight retention, limits collateral damage, and avoids over-penetration.”

    450 Million rounds of HOLLOW POINT. That is a H*ll of a lot of killing power.

  10. avatarMike in NC says:

    As much as I’d like to claim there is some grand conspiracy here, I’m afraid I have to agree with Brian above that this could be within the realm of minimal training quantities. A group of huge agencies going through the procurement process for multiple years will necessarily appear to be ordering an outlandish quantity.

    Odd that the open bid for rifle ammunition is for .223 and not 5.56 NATO.

    • avatarChris P says:

      I too would assume this is for training purposes. I would prefer everyone in a uniform who carried a weapon to be proficient in its usage.

      My grandfather was a US Customs officer for 30yrs, back when they were part of the Treasury Department. He carried a .357 revolver. I’m know he put more than 50 down range a month, and they were all on his own dime. Fortunately he never had to use his weapon in the line of duty, but I do not doubt that he was willing and able to employ it effectively if necessary. Hell he’s 87, and I still wouldn’t pick a fight with him…

  11. avatarTodd says:

    Golly, that’s a whole box of ammo each month. Pfft.

  12. avatarSam Wright says:

    DHS has conceived of a “BulletWalker” program to supply the Mexican drug cartels.

  13. avatarRichard W. says:

    Not really an issue to me. It is dumping current dollars into future expenses. Like buying pallets of paper when you use a single ream a week.

  14. avatarMark Chamberlain says:

    Brian and Mike in NC,
    This is law enforcement DUTY ammo, not practice ammo. I doubt they go to the range and train with duty ammo except to, once in a while, cycle through some old duty ammo before it could go bad which, by the way, it takes a long time for ammo to go bad. I am guessing that most DHS operators carry something like a Sig P226/229 which means they probably carry about 37 rounds on duty. That’s three 12 round mags plus one in the pipe. That would give each operator approximately 21 duty carries of DUTY ammo a year (that’s a lot of LE DGU’s) per operator in addition to the practice non-hollow point FMJ they likely practice with.

    • avatarRob J says:

      Eventually some duty ammo will be used for training. You shoot it every 18 to 24 months depending on the agency you work for. Duty ammo is usually swapped out every once and a while due to weather, lubricant (poor cleaning practices by officers), and other issues. They don’t throw it away, they shoot it.

  15. avatarGreg in Allston says:

    80,000,000+ gun owners should stock up with their favorite flavors. Tit for tat. One box of 50 for each gun owner is 4 Billion rounds. If 10% of gun owners bought a thousand rounds/year, that would be at least 8 Billion rounds.

    Please allow me to adjust my tin foil hat for a moment…… Ahhh, there, much better now. Where was I? Oh, yes. So, if there is to be a disparity in force, that disparity should (must) fall in our favor.

    Do your part to make sure that we always have the upper hand if push comes to shove and everything goes non-linear. Not only does it send a message to those who might be persuaded to try out their tyrannical ideas, it’s fun to drive the anti’s bat shit crazy. Picture the headline in the New York Times; “American’s Right-Wing Militias Bought Over 50 Billion Bullets in 2012″, or something like that. It’s a pretty small price to pay to maintain our system of checks and balances. Do your part to boost the economy!!

  16. avatarRopingdown says:

    Why did DHS buy so much ammo?

    Because they plan to move in on Ruby Ridge 2.0 and realize that last time they just didn’t have enough ammo.
    Because through their incredible intelligence sources they found out that the FBI ordered 350 million and they refuse to be one-up’d.
    Because it turns out ATK’s principal shareholders are really big Obama contributors, and Ploufe decided bullet makers are a better bet than solar.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      Ruby Ridge 2.0 will be taken care of with Hell Fires from Predator drones. No fuss, no muss.

    • avatarGreg in Allston says:

      “Because it turns out ATK’s principal shareholders are really big Obama contributors, and Ploufe decided bullet makers are a better bet than solar.”

      RD, You may have just hit the nail on the head! ;>) Very little surprises me these days. OH the irony.

  17. avatarHal says:

    United States Border Patrol Agents, Customs Officers, Air and Marine Agents, HSI Special Agents, ICE DROs, ICE IEAs, Secret Service Agents, The Coast Guard, Federal Protective Service, and various internal affairs agencies for all of the above. That’s just off the top of my head. I know for a fact that all of them use .223 or 5.56, and all of the above use .40 cal except the Air Marshals (.357 SIG), Coast Guard and Secret Service (those two may also use .40, I just don’t know for sure). You’ve got to figure a minimum of quarterly qualifications, 100-200 rounds per qual for pistol. Then you have those who use submachine guns, typically UMP .40s. Then there are specialty units or additional pistol courses. It adds up.

    • avatarMark Chamberlain says:

      The question is do they really use all that DUTY ammo for training? Wouldn’t they use non-hollow point FMJ which tends to be less costly for training/qualification?

  18. avatarAccur81 says:

    680 rounds per person, per year is 50 rounds for monthly shooting qualification with 80 rounds per year for remediation purposes. Many agencies train with their duty JHP ammo to prevent issues with points of impact when switching ammo.

    Police and Feds could shoot more cheaply, but again, these are government agencies. Saving money, for them, can be considered borderline unconstitutional.

    Beware the cop with one gun. He’s probably not a gun guy, and only shoots when he has to qualify…

  19. avatarStephenT says:

    Don’t worry – if they ordered none, people would say they should train more. Order too much and they want to kill every American/give it away to mexico/some other reason other than they might have a decent training schedule

  20. avatarSlappy says:

    Carpe Civitatibus Tribuebat!

    Must be nice to get to go to the range at taxpayer expense!

  21. avatarRyan Finn says:

    This is for an IDIQ contract. Indefinite Delivery, indefinite quantity. That means that 450 mil is the max amount they could order over that time frame, not that they will definitely be procuring that many rounds.

  22. avatarPX4 says:

    Actually 680 rounds per year doesn’t seem like much…a little over a box a month…jus saying.

  23. avatarMark N. says:

    Come on, Don, you should know better. This contract allows DHS to purchase UP TO that amount of ammunition over the course of the next five years. It’s a devise to assure that the government’s needs are met before the manufacturer meets the demands of others. And I would certainly hope that our agents authorized for weapons use are shooting at least 1000 rounds a year to maintain proficiency. As it is, most police departments complain that they do not have sufficient funds for firearms training and practice. There isn’t going to be some giant stockpile of that many rounds sitting around gathering dust, or, as the tin hats would like to believe, that armaggedon is upon us and the government has some big plans to put down a national domestic disturbance.

  24. avatarShawn says:

    You didn’t hear, they’re gonna be on doomsday preppers

  25. avatarbobby b says:

    ” . . . Which translates to about 3,400 rounds of ammo each . . . ”

    Which, if DHS continues its past record of achievement and proficiency, works out to about 3.9 successful shots on target per agent.

  26. avatarAharon says:

    680 annual rounds averages 56 rounds per month. Just about a box of ammo.

    • avatarNapoleon says:

      Exactly. TTAG has readers stockpiling more than that on a per shooter basis.

      Plus, don’t think those desk jockeys ain’t armed. DHS is pushing to get as many PMs, accountants, etc ‘ordained’ as possible. Hopefully that makes you feel a bit safer next time you board a 737.

  27. avatarJwhite says:

    “680 rounds per year”

    I shoot ~200 9mm every time I go to the range. I shoot my rifle every chance I get, spending about 100 rounds every trip. Thats about 300 rounds combined. I go to the range at least once a month. Thats 3600 on average, per year. 680 is ~18.88% of what I shoot. This contract as stated in the beginning is “over the next five years” personally I dont find that to be a huge amount of ammo per person per year for an institution of that size. I’m one man and I shoot on average in one year, what they shoot in 5 years. I’m repeating myself.

  28. avatarTED says:

    OR, when we get sick of this bloated buracracy and lay off half of them, the government will be selling a lot of surplus ammo cheap to those who shoot 40 cal.

  29. avatarA Reasonable Man says:

    I normally agree with alot of what is written here, but I do take exception to the following :

    “of those people our tax dollars are supporting are IT geeks, clerical types, maintenance staff, administrators or some other breed of gibbering desk monkey”

    Being skeptical of law enforcement is one thing, it is another to completely denigrate a civil servant. Also try and bear in mind that while many actual “Agents” can carry whereever they please, the “desk monkeys” are barred from carrying in their workplace (federal buildings), regardless of their proficiency level with a firearm.

    Bureaucrats are as much citizens as you and I, regardless of who is funding their paycheck.

    • avatarJosh says:

      How dare you bring logic, empathy, and maturity into the comments section of TTAG? Just let us finish our anti-gov’t snarkfest…

      • avatarpsmcd says:

        No, everything above reflects logic, realism and maturity. Where do you get off with your snarkfest?

    • avatarDex says:

      Ill denigrate a civil servant and government worker all i want. i have little respect for a man/woman that is paid a wage pryed from me by extortion…i mean taxes.

      • avatarA Reasonable Man says:

        You have little respect for any man/woman funded by what you view as extortion (being taxes)?So you don’t respect anyone repairing your highway system, educating your children, nor soldiers and policemen? Simply because they are paid by taxes you don’t want to pay? If your local supermarket charges too much in your estimation for milk, do you also consider this extortion, and correspondingly disrespect the cashier on your way out the door?

        One can be a supporter of freedom and the 2nd Amendment without also being completely rude and condescending of others. I urge you to consider this path.

        • avatarCasey1911 says:

          If the local supermarket charged me too much, I would go to walmart. Unfortunately, the government has no such competition, therefore whether it goes to “good use,” whatever that means, or not, it was extorted from us.

        • avatarTom says:

          That is the general problem with Government. I think Washington had a speech about it being a Force and a Fire, not eloquence.

        • avatarTaxedTooMuch says:

          It is extortion. The government is the only organization which can take your money at the point of a gun legally if it goes that far. Ever heard of armed IRS agents? You sound like a typical civil servant who mostly are oblivious the real world outside their cloistered, overly benefited, cushy jobs. One example you mentioned is paying taxes to have someone teach my children. That is one thing I surely don’t want the government doing. They have PROVEN they can screw that up; just look at the state of public education in America. That is why I pay more money (including my taxes) to send my children to a private school which doesn’t hire and retain civil servants who graduated from the colleges of Education which (check this) have the lowest ACT score entrants of any college within a University. Check that fact. It is not rude at all to expect our paid “servants” to do a much better job than they do in far too many cases…education being just the first which comes to mind. As for building highways, spaceships, airplanes etc. the last I checked the government has never done any of those. Ever hear of contractors who do that e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Asplundh (roads), et al? Government civil servants “administrate” the contracts to have those things done. They don’t, and frankly, wouldn’t be capable of doing those activities. I’ve been on both sides of this equation for decades (government and contractor) and I see what really goes on. The civil servants are the Ward Cleavers who show up and up push the paper for way too much money, then take 5 weeks vacation and then retire with an amount that is astronomical compared to what they contributed (esp. under the older CSRS, but also FERS) … and that “retirement” amount is a big chunk of what is bankrupting the U.S.

          No, it is not rude to be fed up with paying way too much for way too little for way too long. There is a lot to criticize about government civil servants. If we laid off (fired) about 33% of them tomorrow it would be a good start and we, as a country, would be much better off.

  30. avatarfreeport56 says:

    They want that much ammo in case they have to shoot us, DUH!

  31. avatarFrank says:

    It’s simple. They are expecting civil unrest in the near future. For what reason and how it will portray it’s self only they know. Well that’s my two cents worth. Without going completely tin foal hat on the subject. :-)

  32. avatarpair-o-dee says:

    It’s hard to tell if this post is the usual anti-gummint screed, or the usual anti-LEO screed. Probably both.

  33. avatarJay says:

    Well, if they order all the ammo you can’t get any. Like magazines for a SCAR 17S.

    With that in mind, when you are buying a new gun should it be in .40S&W or 9mm?

  34. avatarSkip Mozisek says:

    For those of you saying that it comes out to 50 rounds per month, Do you think there are 9 million employees of the DHS?

    • avatarMadDawg J says:

      450,000,000 rounds over 5 years
      Divide by 5 = 90,000,000 rounds/year
      Divide by 12 = 7,500,000 rounds/month
      Split that up (divide) by 132,000 employees = 56.81 rounds each/month

  35. avatarBpjester says:

    The average line agent in the Border Patrol shoot an average of 2000 rounds of pistol ammo in a year. That number doesn’t include the speciality units that train more frequently than the line agents. Seeing how just a couple of years ago, budget shortfalls almost canceled quarterly qualifications. Look at it this way, most BP agents work solo in the desert. If/when an agent encounters a group of armed drug smugglers, that agent has to be extremely proficient with firearms to prevail. That level of proficiency requires lots of ammo. DHS includes CBP, ICE, AMO, Secret Service, and the Coast Guard. That’s a bunch of gun carriers.

  36. avatarjoe says:

    remember the united states coast gaurd is under DHS. they have special teams who in a given year would per shooter use more than 680 rounds in a range or two. As a former USMC CQB team member my Plt. would easily shoot 5000+ rounds in a single range….in one day. just my 2 cents.

  37. avatarLt Dave says:

    If they have it, you don’t.

  38. avatarTooCloseToSanford says:

    Isn’t this purchase for hollow points? Who trains with hollow points?

    • avatarBpjester says:

      For very practical and legal liability issues, law enforcement personnel train with the exact ammo they carry on duty.

  39. avatartmuir says:

    I got it, somebody has decided that the Coast Guard no longer needs to shoot surplus stock. I consider it odd that in these lean economic times the government can afford to spend this much on ammunition. Not ships for the Coast Guard; not training for the TSA and its TSO; not replacing random asbestos containing buildings; nor improving infrastructure, and certainly not on education. Ammunition. Paranoid much?

  40. avatarTrav says:

    You do understand that CBP officers (not to include SS or the other DHS branches) shoot a minimum of 280 rounds of .40 cal every three months right? 680 rounds per person covers the required qualifications and a bit extra range time.

  41. avatarNate says:

    No one has mentioned it yet, but this ammunition probably isn’t just for Customs and Border Patrol, but because the DHS also oversees the Federal Flight Deck Officer program. The agency is tight lipped over the actual numbers but its rumored to be well over 10,000 volunteers and is possibly ranked third in total size against all other federal law enforcement agencies alone. That alone would account for much of that order.

    Also they really were never on board with the concept of that program anyway, and with current DHS funding cuts, both the FAM service and the FFDO program could be cut significantly. They would rather spend your tax money on a 3 million dollar airport scanner.

    Sorry if I posted this twice by the way.

  42. avatarEric says:

    DHS is pure and simply incompetant. They took away all of the previous weapons the individual agencies had and replaced them with a new handgune (do your own homework on this) they were all chambered for the 40sw. Many of the officers and agents were having great difficulty in qualifying with new handgun and ammo. Some genus decided that if this was the case they would keep the guns and use 130 gr bullets, anyone who knows anything about the difference between 40 and 9mm knows that a 130 gr 4o is of no value. In short time the DHS realized thier idiocy and pulled all of the 130gr back… no one seems to know where that went, Might i suggest that you write Ms. Clinton, she probably knows… so now they had no ammo and had to go into the market and buy new…. and then we hear of the 450 million round purchase. No conspiracty here… just plain old ordinary liberal stumbling… instead of using the same round that most Military units use they went down this road….

    As to the 223 they are trying to buy…the story is simple… one day they woke up to find they didnt have enough long guns…(actually very few) they elected to go buy them… allegedly the buy was made. I dont know what they bought. then they discovered they had no ammo for them and couldnt get them through Military sourcing so they went out for commercial rounds…i would suggest that everyone write one of the agencies, or bettter yet call and speak to them to verify this…

    The good thing is that they werent trying to soak the out of the civilan marketplace.. the bad thing is these are the miscreants that are supposed to be watching our borders, and a myriad of other duties. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF ANY OF THE LINE OFFICERS AND OPERATORS, THEY ARE A PRAISWORTHY GROUP.

    This rests entirely upon the “upper management” …. just one more thing… these are the self same forces designed to protect your civil rights including one oft overlooked one refered to as the 2nd ammendment…

    Go check for yourself.. Google “DHS” get the names of all thier agencies and start calling.. if you find differently please post.

    • avatarJoe R. says:

      +1
      And, buy them (and the TSA) some treadmills, if you want your guys to look like ‘operators’ then weighing them down with ammo ain’t gonna help. BTW, it’s not cool to hang several inches over your 511′s. Just sayin.

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