The people of TWD seems worry about basic things like food, water and shelter. However, I can't see the same concern about ammunition. I understand the show don't need to be realistic (it's fiction), but considering the world in which they live they should be more concerned about the ammunition (and stop to waste).

  • They use guns when should use melee attack (e.g. have few walkers or should avoid noise)
  • Shooting in full-auto instead semi (walkers are slow and it gives more precision for a headshot)

The question is: where do they find so much ammunition and how they can carry?

Even if they found a lot of ammo in the runs, it should be hard to carry (a large amount of ammunition is a lot of weight to carry in the back). Also, they are not the only ones seeking ammunition and over time should become more scarce.

  • 3
    They use guns when should use melee attack (e.g. have few walkers or should avoid noise) They regularly use melee attacks in that situation...
    – cde
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 19:03
  • 1
    You're right. I'm just saying they don't do this as a rule. I can't point exactly which episodes, but often some of them simply shoot the walkers (one guy shoot and others use melee attack).
    – moonstein
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 19:13
  • 2
    Well, some are not as strong, easily scared. Others just enjoy shooting them. And the rest are dumb. The smart and strong characters melee when possible. It's realistic.
    – cde
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 19:18
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    and who keeps mowing all the lawns?
    – DA.
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 18:46
  • @DA. The Zombie virus jumped species and stunted grass growth. Because science
    – cde
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


I think you overestimate how often they use firearms, and exactly how much ammunition they need.

There is very little information on this in-universe so we must apply logic.

On firearm usage

Numerous times throughout the show's run you hear Rick and others talk about conserving ammunition, using melee attacks (i.e. blades), and other forms of creative fighting to avoid using ammunition (e.g. luring them into the ravine in season 5).

Very few times do they use automatic or burst fire. The only times I remember this occurring were when the protagonists were being overrun: Shane during the school supply run, and Rick and Carl during the prison break-in.

Most often we see the protagonists using a revolver (Rick) and basic semiautomatic pistols or rifles (everyone else). Please be aware that not all rifles are automatic: in fact, most are not. Automatic weapons generate a lot of heat: an automatic rifle can actually deform its barrel if fired too much. This is why we have machine guns which are designed for the stress and heat of automatic fire, and I do not recall machine guns being used by Rick's group in the show. Just because you see a long arm in the show does not mean it is automatic: it is likely a semiautomatic rifle or shotgun.

On ammunition

The Walking Dead takes place in rural U.S.A., an area teeming with ammunition. But where is this ammunition?

The basic supply chain is ammunition is built in factories, shipped to gun stores and law enforcement offices, then sold or issued to individual users.

During the impending apocalypse, it is reasonable to assume that people would stockpile ammunition and other supplies. It is natural to assume that as society falls apart, we would all need to defend our little islands of sanity from walkers and other living who want to take our stuff to survive.

So where is the ammunition? As supply chains stop, the bulk of the ammunition would be at gun stores and law enforcement offices. During civilization's final death throes, these would be dried out by survivors looting and pillaging what they can. Most ammunition would likely be in private caches in people's homes.

On supplying

Throughout the show, one common theme we see is the protagonists looting almost every house they come across looking for food, potable water, guns and ammunition, and other supplies such as baby formula. The show glosses over many mundane aspects of daily life, leading us to assume that unless otherwise mentioned, they have enough of the supplies they need.

Also do not underestimate the fact that the biggest threat is the other living, and they are armed: every living group that Rick's group kills is another opportunity to loot ammunition and other supplies.

On creating new ammunition

During season 6, we see Eugene concoct plans to manufacture new ammunition. Once a group is large and stable enough, this may be feasible. They would need:

  • Spent casings. Anyone using firearms would need to pick them up off the floor (semiautomatic), potentially during times when they are focused on survival (i.e. not being eaten). This would be easier with revolvers such as Rick's, because they do not eject spent casings automatically.

  • A supply of lead (Eugene mentions this). Perhaps there are ingots laying around in abandoned factories or foundries, perhaps it would need to be mined (I am not walking into a dark abandoned mine during the zombie apocalypse!). It would not take much: a few hundred pounds of lead is reasonable to achieve in an ingot or two, and individual bullets are tiny.

  • A foundry. Basically, a facility that can generate enough heat to melt lead, 621.5°F. Your typical wood or propane fire probably cannot get that hot, but a foundry will have the proper tools to generate the heat assuming there is fuel. Lead actually has a low melting point compared to other metals (e.g. Iron melts at ​2,800°F) which is a positive thing when civilization grinds to a halt and people want to make bullets.

  • Forms.

  • Primers.

  • Someone with metallurgy skills. Dealing with molten lead, pouring it into forms, etc. safely requires specialized knowledge.

If someone such as Eugene has metallurgy skills, comes across an ammunition factory, the factory has raw materials, is not pillaged or otherwise damaged such that it cannot operate, it would be an ideal scenario. Anything less would be a huge amount of work, perhaps insurmountably so. I believe the key is the raw materials: if people need to mine the lead that is a non-starter. As long as there are ingots (preferably) or even mined ore (needs smelting and perhaps mechanical separation of ore and rock), that is a huge boost.


With the living population vastly reduced, there is likely plenty of ammunition for the remaining survivors. Ammunition is stored in places Rick's group is likely to loot anyway, making it easy to replenish as they go along: there is no need to stockpile thousands of rounds of various calibers. Since they kill the majority of the walkers using bladed and other melee weapons, they do not have a need for stockpiling (and carrying) tons of ammunition.

  • 1
    You don't need a foundry to melt lead – a propane torch is sufficient and you certainly don't need metallurgy skills unless you are mining for lead (or something). The scene with Eugene in the machine shop was kind of silly – you don't need any of that to reload cartridges – you just need a simple press: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handloading#Presses
    – spring
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 8:36

If you were to compare our world to theirs, I would think that most of the ammunition would come from sheriff/police stations, gun stores, houses in which people stocked up, supermarkets, military armories/bases, gun ranges. If you think about our world, there is ammunition everywhere. While there is a also an abundance of food everywhere you look in our world, in TWD world most of this food has spoiled, eaten by animals, etc. Ammo doesn't really go bad, so it is still abundant especially since there are fewer of the living to fire a weapon.

As to couple real examples in the show (via Wikipedia):

Season 1 showed Rick going to his sheriff's station for supplies.

S3E01 Seed: They find the prison and with it some supplies.

S3E12 Clear: Rick, Carl and Michonne go on a supply run to Ricks hometown, initially to his old police station for more weapons. In this episode they also come across Morgan, who has stock piled weapons and ammunition in an apartment.

These are just a couple of examples, and as for how they are able to carry it? I've seen the characters share ammunition with each other, so I assume everyone carries some on them when they travel. Ammo is heavy, but that doesn't seem to be a concern for the show.

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