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Home » A Barter Economy – Part Two

A Barter Economy – Part Two

A Barter Economy – Part Two

In an emergency survival situation, firearms can be used for hunting or defense. So, ammunition, spare parts, and maintenance tools would be in high demand in a barter economy. It would be important for a trader to stock up on these items. Here are some of the most popular firearm cartridges:

  • 9mm Luger (9×19)
  • .223/5.56 Nato
  • .45 ACPammunition
  • 12gauge shotgun
  • .22 long rifle
  • 40 S&W
  • 380 ACP
  • .308/7.62 Nato
  • 62×39 Russian
  • .357 Magnum
  • .44 Magnum
  • 30-06

(source: knowledgeglue.com)

There are many other popular types of handgun and rifle cartridges that are commonly used, but these are some of the most popular. If you have these, you won’t have much difficulty locating people willing to trade for them.

Choosing goods that are universally desired for trading purposes is one of the biggest challenges facing survivors who are using a barter system. People may be living with various lifestyles and circumstances which lead to different needs and priorities. For example, whiskey may trade well in situations where people want to party and indulge at gatherings, but may not trade in a religious community. You need to consider what the other people will need in order to have the most desired products in stock for a barter system.


There may not be a one-size-fits-all trade commodity, however, there are some things that will come closer to meeting the needs of most people. You can create a list of possible barter goods by categories. The “essentials” category would include goods that the average person would need at some point. For example, all people need to eat if they want to survive. So, certain storage food products should be listed in the essentials column. You may also consider putting items like salt, toilet paper, soap and other needed consumable items that may be universally needed.

Nonessentials – But valuable in a Barter Economy

The best category should include things that may not only be desired by Whiskey and Cigarsome people, but may be precious to those people. For example, some people are smokers, and to them smoking cigarettes or cigars is important. Having a drink of whiskey, wine or other alcoholic beverage could be equally important. These could be categorized as “tradeable nonessentials”. This list could include items such as coffee, tea, cigarettes, cigars, wine, beer and whiskey etc. For some people, these are luxury items, but they are valuable essentials to others, especially during hard and stressful times. One only has to look back at “Prohibition” days to see the benefits.


Tools and hardware should be considered universally essential to maintain a normal human existence. The third category could be called “durables”. This list might include miscellaneous weapons, tools, and hardware. Since these products are somewhat non-consumable. The demand for resupply is less frequent than for the items in the other two categories. For example, while a shovel may break with regular use, or a firearm may rust, fail or get loose over time, these items will not need to be purchased as often as bars of soap or bags of dried beans. You should consider this when planning items to store for a barter economy.

The frequency of resupply must be weighed against the limited storage life of the consumables. A firearm, hand tool, or steel trap may remain in dry storage for years without any signs of deterioration. Canned goods and sacks of dried beans, smoked jerky, nuts, or rice will store well under ideal conditions. However, time works against any food product. Many only have a six month to one- year storage life. After this time, many of the foodstuffs will lose some of their nutritional value and based on the type of preservative and packaging used, some items may spoil after that date. This is the nature of consumable products. That’s why you should consider the lifespan of the product when making your lists.

Shelf Life

For traders, the shelf life of consumables is a major concern. Most medicines, drugs, and packaged foods have an expiration date. Some commodities don’t have a long storage life, which can limit their potential for trade in a barter economy. If a person is starving you may be willing to trade something of value for a loaf of bread, but the bread must be consumed quickly before it’s destroyed by mold. Because of the relatively short lifespan of bread, it makes a poor trade investment, even if it’s important to someone or a desirable item.

A can of beans has a longer shelf life than a loaf of bread, which clearly makes it a better trade item. The person who trades for the stew has several options. He can consume the stew immediately, as he would have done with the bread. That would satisfy his immediate need. Or, he can save the beans for later. He may be hungrier later than he is now. Since the beans are inside a sealed can, it will last longer than an unsealed loaf of bread. Finally, he may not consume the beans, keeping it until he can find someone who wants to trade for it. All of these options have a value. These examples should illustrate the durability of trade goods in a barter economy and the value of shelf life.