I Had No Idea How Bad The Ammo Shortage Is!
February 14, 2013
I have to admit, I’ve been a little insulated. Winchester, Barnes, and Federal/CCI have pretty much set me up with enough ammo to keep my relatively modest needs met for a while now. Beyond that, I’ve got enough reloading components to satisfy my basic needs of target shooting and hunting for a pretty long time. So, at least for my go-to guns, the 30-06, .243, .44mag, and .17hmr, I haven’t really done much shopping.
But recently, Kat has taken a new interest in shooting handguns, and she’s been talking to one of our neighbors about a women’s “shooting club”. Most of her shooting will be with a 9mm or a .22LR, and while I’ve got a few hundred rounds of each laying around, I thought I’d hop out on the Interwebz and see about laying in a couple of bulk boxes of ammo.
I hit the major sites first. You know, Cabelas, BassPro, CheaperThanDirt, Sportsman’s Warehouse, MidwayUSA, and the dearth of available options was shocking. Every site showed a complete lack of 9mm ammo, and most wouldn’t even backorder! I figured, “well, OK. This sort of makes sense. With all the gun and ammo ban talk, the self-defense and AR guys are stockpiling this stuff while they still can.”
So then I looked around for some .22lr ammo, and was absolutely shocked to find that the situation was identical! Nothing to be found! Now I know that there are a lot of .22lr “trainer” rifles and handguns out there and they’re a cheap way to shoot the ARs. But I didn’t expect to see the virtual shelves bare of options (Cabelas did have some tracer rounds, but I’m not really interested in shooting those…especially in this drought).
Local shops are almost as bad. We hit a place in San Antonio yesterday, Nagel’s Guns. They had a few boxes of 9mm on the shelves, but it was mostly the rapid expansion, self-defense ammo. That stuff is pricey, and I have as much of that as we should ever need. We don’t target practice with that stuff. As for the basic ball ammo and cheap target rounds, they had nothing…nada… zip… zilch. They were almost completely sold out of .22lr.
I’ll add that gun sales in that shop were off the hook! We could barely find room to belly up to the counter to get service, and the counters were covered with 4473 forms in various states of completion. As I looked around the shop filled with a wonderful variety of new and used hunting rifles and shotguns, almost every customer was purchasing or inspecting either ARs or handguns.
One of our local shops in Uvalde, Oasis Outback, is a similar picture, although since their stock of handguns, ARs, and ammo has almost been completely depleted, there were no crowds. They do have a few ARs on the shelf, but closer inspection shows that all of them have “Sold” marked on the price tag. In speaking with the gun shop employees, there is no clear idea of when they’ll see more ammo or more guns.
Is this simple hysteria? Is there a panic on, amongst gun owners? I found it interesting as I have visited shops in the recent weeks, that many of the buyers aren’t “gun nut” types. They’re not stockpiling weapons. A few of them are hunters looking to lay in something for self-defense in addition to their hunting rifles. Others are folks who’ve never owned a gun before, or have only passing familiarity. They want to get something “while they still can”.
I remember the madness in 1994, prior to the passage of the first assault weapons ban. I also saw it right after 9/11. And, of course, there was 2007-2008, as it became clear that Obama was going to take the presidency and madness reigned over the fears of harsh new gun control laws (that were never even proposed, much less enacted).
But this time, on the heels of Obama’s re-election and the spate of mass killings (Phoenix, Aurora, Sandy Hook), it’s worse than I’ve ever seen. Of course, this time there are some pretty draconian proposals on the table. I feel for the good folks in New York, California, Colorado, and probably a handful of other states who will rush to enact similar restrictions on guns, ammo, and certain accoutrements. I’m also pretty sure we’re going to see some sort of restrictions come on the federal level.
There are, of course, other factors related to the ammo shortage. I pointed them out in my last post, and also had some conversations about this a while back in regards to the limited availability of lead-free ammo. Raw materials have gone nuts in price, with increased export to China and some other countries. The simple reality that the increased interest in the AR platform over the past decade has resulted in an increased demand for the popular AR calibers. And, of course have been several “interesting” theories put forth about why ammo is becoming scarce. I’m not going to go there, but the truth is, as usual, much more blase. People want more ammo than the industry can provide.
This, it seems to me, should have been one of the big stories coming away from the SHOT Show this year. It had to have been a topic of conversation.
By the way, the shortages are relatively wide-spread, but they primarily affect the various self-defense and “AR” chamberings (e.g. 9mm, .223/5.56, .308, 6.8spc, etc.). The price of more common hunting calibers has gone up to reflect diminished supply, but you can still find most of them on shelves or online.