Copper, Lead, Brass and Silver – Precious Metals for Precarious Times
Kind of a tongue-in-cheek title, I do admit… but not completely. You seasoned preppers out there may already know these facts, so this post is directed more at the beginning prepper. We were all there once and can remember the day that it struck us – that haunting realization of the fragility of our comfortable, technology-dependent lifestyles. Many readers have just experienced that epiphany, or are about to, and that is the purpose of the Practical Prepper Blog. Specifically though, the purpose of this particular post is to make sure that beginning preppers don’t forget the aforementioned ‘Precious Metals, in their preparations.
The first PMs I want to discuss are the kind that are used firearms – the brass, lead, and copper kind. Simply put, a set of disaster plans that does not include at least one firearm for personal and family protection is folly, (My next post will be on the subject of firearms for family protection.) and firearms need ammunition. Here are three reasons I believe you should include copper, lead and brass in your PM ‘portfolio’.
1. Ammunition is still scarce and still very expensive.
Hmmm….scarce and expensive -sounds like Precious Metals to me, eh? And seeing as to how, with the wars still raging on Iraq and Afghanistan (and others on the horizon), it’s not going to get any more plentiful or cheaper for the foreseeable future, the time to start stocking up is now. Notice I said ‘start’ stocking up, not run out and buy 3000 rounds of 9mm or sell the car and buy several palates of Russian military surplus ammunition tomorrow morning. Your purchase of ammo should be like that of your food items – that is to say, purchased a little at a time over several months to spread out the cost and minimize the effect on your budget.
How much to buy? Well, that is up to you, really, but I would suggest having at least a few hundred rounds for each weapon you own as a good place to start. One trip to the target range to keep your skills sharp will dent that amount considerably, so remember, it’s just a starting point.
2. When you need it most, you won’t be able to buy it.
The reason you have decided to stock up on food, gasoline and water is because when things begin to go downhill you will not be able to get them, right? The same goes for ammunition – except more so. I suspect that if the Shit Hits The Fan, ammo sales are going to be banned immediately in may locations around the country. Just when you will need it most, it will be unavailable at any price. You can avoid that unpleasant prospect by beginning to stock up now while it’s still available. Would you like to be in line at Wal-Mart in the first hectic hours after a disaster occurs fighting over the last box of .223 with seven other desperate people? I thought not.
3. Ammo in common calibers is as good as gold for barter purposes.
My wife came home with two cartons of Marlboro cigarettes the other day. This would not be so unusual except for the fact that neither of us have smoked for at least 25 years! When I questioned her about it, she said that they would make good barter items if the SHTF – my wife is obviously a Keeper!!! She was right, of course, and those two cartons of smokes have been vacuum-sealed and put away with the rest of our supplies. The point here is that having items available for barter is a prudent thing to do and there will be few more valuable items if things go south than a box of ammunition.
One good reason to consider storing more than the minimum of a few hundred rounds per weapon I proposed earlier in this post is so that you may be able to trade some of it for needed items in case paper money has lost its value and is no longer accepted. I would even suggest, if you have the spare funds, that it would be prudent to even have a few boxes of ammunition in popular calibers for which you do not posses a corresponding weapon. For example, you may not own a weapon in .308 (too bad…) or .45 ACP, but many, many people do and, again, if you can afford it, having a box of ammo in those calibers or other popular ones would be a good idea. The decision is yours, of course. Should you spend that $25 on a box of ammo for someone else’s weapon or on a silver coin?
And that brings me to the other PM mentioned in the title of this post: Silver.
First thing you should know is that I am NOT an expert, or a PM dealer, nor do I play one on TV. What I’m going to tell you is just my opinion. I’m just relating what I have chosen to do and why. I offer the advice not as some pearl of great wisdom, but rather because I know many of you are beginning preppers are still acquiring information before actually beginning your prepping in earnest. And you’d like to know what others are doing and why.
With the disclaimer out of the way, let me offer my two-cents vis a vis buying silver or gold. I decided several years ago to buy a little silver every paycheck or so when I can afford to do so. Now I’m talking about actual silver coins NOT a piece of paper telling me that I own the metal. The reason I do this is my reason number one for buying the actual metal:
1. If you cant hold it; you don’t own it!
Simply put, for many years I suspected that what is true of the banking industry is also true of the precious metals market – that is that a bank need only have 10% of its depositor’s dollars on hand. In other words, if a bank has 1 million dollars in deposits, it is only required by law to keep $100,000 on hand at any given time. Much to the world’s chagrin, the same has been found out to be true for many precious metals dealers who claim that they actually have every ounce of gold for which they issued certificates, in a vault somewhere in Never-Never land. The fact is, PM dealers do not have anywhere near enough real gold or silver to cover the paper promises of same that they have sold to unsuspecting investors. And if there is ever a run on gold, where people are demanding to take delivery of their paper-promised PMs, there are going to be lots and lots of very unhappy people.
Long story short: If you want to own gold or silver as a hedge against a weakening dollar, take delivery of the metal and store it in your gun safe.
2. Silver has been called the poor man’s gold.
And for good reason. An ounce of it, at present market value is about $18.70 while an ounce of gold is around $1180. I don’t know about you, but on a teacher’s salary, I can’t afford to buy very much gold. Even the quarter or fifth ounce British and French gold coins are still very expensive at around $300. I started buying silver ’rounds’ a few years ago. A round is a privately minted 1-ounce coin usually of .999 purity silver metal. Typically, they are not worth as much as US or foreign government minted coins which have some intrinsic value to collectors as opposed to most rounds which are merely a convenient way of selling you an ounce of nearly pure silver. But I didn’t start buying the silver as an investment. I bought it to protect the dollars I traded for them. If the dollar tanks, it will not be a good thing for a person to be holding lots of cash as it would have lost a considerable portion of its value. If, however, that person had decided to use half of that cash to buy silver or gold, that portion of his wealth would have at least retained its value with respect to the dollar.
More recently, though, I have been buying US Mint American Eagle silver coins wherever I can get my hands on them. They are more expensive than generic rounds, but they are also worth more to collectors due to their intrinsic value.
3. Silver’s lower price per ounce allows the purchase of more physical metal.
Here’s a simple fact: A person who buys a $300 1/4 oz. gold coin for barter if the economy collapses, is at a distinct disadvantage against a person who used that same $300 to buy 15 silver coins. It is a safe assumption that anyone accepting a 1/4 oz gold coin in partial trade for an item or service will NOT offer ‘change’ in gold for the purchase of a lawnmower blade, let’s say. Instead, they might offer an ‘in kind’ trade or credit on future purchases. A hypothetical situation, to be sure, but not an implausible one. Having PMs in smaller ‘denominations’ like silver coins will allow a flexibility in a barter situation lacking with gold coins of greater value. Don’t get me wrong here, folks, a 1 0z gold Krugerrand is an excellent way to protect your wealth in tough times, but it’s terrible choice if you’re bartering for something as mundane as a car battery or a radio.
4. Silver is historically underpriced.
For a long time, the value of silver was pegged at roughly 1/12th or 1/13th that of gold. Speculatioin has driven it down to its present 1/63rd the price of an ounce of gold. to be sure, I buy silver for all the reasons stated above, but if is value ever again begins to move back to its historical position more closer to that of gold, I will have made a tidy profit while protecting my family’s wealth.
Which brings me to me final point.
None of what we fear could happen is actually certain to happen. And that would be a GOOD THING! If you acquire silver coins for the reasons I previously discussed – and the world doesn’t go to hell; first of all, thank God, because there is nothing FUN about an economic collape. And second, you’ve got a bunch of PM coins that will only increase in value if you hold them – or could give you some vacation $ if you decide to sell them.
I joke with my kids when the FedEx truck brings me 5 more silver eagles “you should hope that I never have to use these in an emergency, because if I don’t, I’m leaving them to YOU”
Ultimately, buying silver is a no-lose situation.
Be Safe. Be Prepared.