The Pentagon Is Not Destroying Civilian Rifle And Pistol Ammunition

Bless their hearts.

Some of the more conspiratorial folks out there (including some that should certainly know better) are having near seizures over a news report that the Pentagon is dismantling roughly $1 billion of ammunition.

The Pentagon plans to destroy more than $1 billion worth of ammunition although some of those bullets and missiles could still be used by troops, according to the Pentagon and congressional sources.

It’s impossible to know what portion of the arsenal slated for destruction — valued at $1.2 billion by the Pentagon — remains viable because the Defense Department’s inventory systems can’t share data effectively, according to a Government Accountability Office report obtained by USA TODAY.

Thanks to disreputable conspiracy theory sites (Prison Planet, Infowars, etc.) providing misleading context on executive branch ammunition purchases, some think that “the government” is buying up all the ammunition, and stockpiling it for use against us. When these same people hear that “ammunition” is being destroyed by the military, they extrapolate from their previous conspiracy theories, and come to the conclusion that the ammunition that they think is being “bought up” by DHS, USPS, etc is then being destroyed by the military.


There isn’t much that could be further from the truth.

While I don’t think the President has the best interests of the Republic at heart at all, the reality of the matter is that federal ammunition purchases have declined during the Obama Administration. They simply have large agencies to support, and the round count of the ammo purchases when spread out across agencies amounts to a  training allotment on a per agent basis. The military ammunition market is separate from the civilian ammunition market… unless Lake City Army Ammunition Plant has surplus ammunition to sell back to the market (which it does from time to time), or specialized units need small batches of specialized ammunition for testing and deployment.

Small arms ammunition will likely make up a small portion of the $1 billion total mentioned in the report.

Small arms ammunition—some of it deployed in Afghanistan had headstamps dating back to the 1980s—is either scrapped or surplussed when representative samples begin failing inspections. Deployed ammunition is often reintegrated, but if lot numbers have been lost, that ammunition must be slated to be demilled or surplussed.

The bulk of that $1 billion “discard pile” of ammunition come from actually old missiles like this Stinger.


TOW missiles, Javelins, and other ground-to-ground missiles are generally used up in training exercises as the end of their lifecycles nears an end. It’s expensive training, but at least the weapons are used up imparting knowledge and experience to soldiers and Marines instead of otherwise being scrapped.

Other systems, like the Stinger anti-aircraft missle pictured above, are a little harder to use up in training (ground targets can be blasted repeatedly; airborne target drones are a bit harder to procure and re-use).

Military bloggers that I read and trust do a far better job of explaining the nuances of the dismantling of the obsolete weapon systems, and so I’ll simply turn it over to two of them.

There simply is no conspiracy here, and those that are purposefully generating hysteria to further their own goals are abusing your trust.