Do soldiers ever keep a bullet for themselves?

Reality or myth?

Exercito Portugues substitui a espingarda automatica G3
Portuguese soldier with FN SCAR-L (Photo: Portuguese Army)

I kept not one round but a complete magazine for myself. The purpose of this, however, wasn’t to blow my brains out if the going got too rough, but something different:

  • Usually, you go on a combat patrol with around 210 rounds; if your weapon has a bigger caliber (for example, 7.62x51mm ) you’ll carry even less.
  • If you get into a firefight, your ammunition can deplete very quickly or maybe, you don’t fire a single shot, but some of your buddies do and you have to give them some of your own mags.

A good infantry unit always makes sure that all the team members have about an equal amount of ammo and that there’s no one running around with only a half mag while the others still have plenty of ammo. Therefore, your personal ammo situation will reflect that of your unit.

You always have to make sure that you have enough rounds to be able to disengage from your enemy. Waiting until your “last bullet” to do this is stupid. Therefore, my own “personal” ammunition limit, my red line, started already when I was down to two mags.

You are in a defensive position and you are thinking about whether you stay put or do a flanking maneuver. If your unit has only 25% of its ammo left, you don’t do such a maneuver. If you are down to 15%, however, you should slowly start thinking about disengaging.

Of course, you can resupply and go back into combat. Doing it during a firefight, however (except throwing a mag to your buddy who is running out of ammo) is usually not possible.

In case you are in a really bad situation where resupply isn’t possible, you are getting overrun and no one is there to help you, you shouldn’t worry too much about still possessing this famous “last bullet”.

After a longer firefight, there is usually loose ammunition everywhere. Just check your pockets or the weapon of a dead buddy. Usually, soldiers get killed before they run out of ammo. If you really think that finishing your life is such a great idea, you can also use a hand grenade, no need to do it with a gun.

Anyway, this “last bullet” thing is more a theoretical thing than that it really occurs. If you find yourself indeed in such a situation, it means that a lot of people on your side screwed up, including yourself.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Spec Ops Magazine.