Question of the Day: Wal-Mart Rationing Ammo. Happy?

Back ordered .308 ammo

The Great Ammunition and Firearms Sales Surge continues: “America’s biggest gun dealer has begun to ration that most basic commodity — ammunition,” commercialappeal.com reports. “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has limited each customer to three boxes of cartridges as a buying spree depletes gun shops across Memphis and America of rounds of ammunition fired in everything from hand guns to hunting rifles.” Yes, well, we’re hearing reports that supplies are easing in some areas. Maybe not. Bruce Krafft’s startling report from the ammo front (screen cap from sportsmansguide.com above) indicates years of drought. As we attempt to discover the truth about ammunition supplies are you OK with stores taking these steps to protect smaller buyers from ammo hoarders?

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

112 Responses to Question of the Day: Wal-Mart Rationing Ammo. Happy?

  1. avatarTim says:

    Brietbart news, which I like, is portraying this as wally world folding over for the left and Mayor Bloomberg. I have to disagree. There are a lot of gun dealers, inclduing small guys in my area, rationing ammo, as a way of making sure that more customers can at least get some of what they need. I’m okay with it.

  2. avatarMashashin says:

    Yeah I’m fine with three boxes as that’s three more then I can find anywhere else

    • avatarSteve says:

      Exactly. This buying frenzy has made it impossible for me to find 9mm or 22lr anywhere except my local gun range, which charges 50% more than anywhere else. Their 9mm rounds are handloaded, too…

      Stop hoarding, for the sake of those of us who don’t have 20,000 rounds stockpiled…

      • avatarSixpack70 says:

        I went to a small shop here in MA and snagged 400 rounds of .22lr. There were about 20+ more boxes of various types. It must be specific to the region what people are hoarding. I could get almost any type of pistol ammo if I wanted also.

  3. avatarfull.tang.halo says:

    I haven’t seen 3 boxes of usable ammo in a wal-mart for 3 weeks, all that is left is 17 HMR, there isn’t even any shotgun shells. Welcome to the gunshine state, I hope you brought ammo cause we got none left.

  4. avatarUSMCVeteran says:

    I’ve seen these small signs on EMPTY ammo shelves at every Walmart in my town.

  5. avatarJohn says:

    Think of it as 1095 boxes a year. It helps. Besides, its not like you will actually find those three boxes every day.

  6. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I’m OK with this decision, y’know, when they get ammo back in.

  7. avatarChris says:

    My local got bulk 22LR in this morning and I walked in right as the clerk was finishing unboxing. It was like Christmas. I haven’t seen bulk boxes since October.

    If not for the limit I’d have probably bought all 20 boxes because I need them for classes. All of it was gone before noon.

    This is the second time I arrived during a restock. I thnk I know their schedule.

    • avatarrosignol says:

      Mm.

      About what time did you walk in, perchance? Wallyworld is big on standardization, the schedule is probably similar at other stores…

  8. avatar1911A1 says:

    I’ve had product availability notifications on 22LR at Midway for over a month. Each one has come and gone without anything coming in. Yesterday they were supposed to get 555 count Winchester in. The due date changed from 1/30 to “overdue” yesterday afternoon, and this morning it changed to 5/13/13. If these factories are running at 100% capacity, where’s all the ammo?

    Also, where’s all the Russian ammo? Midway and CTD has most of it labeled discontinued or no longer available. Somebody “lose” their import license all of a sudden?

    • avatarChris says:

      Walmarts near me are still getting Tulammo in sporadically but I haven’t seen .223 since early January at just one out of 5 I stopped at while driving from Hilton Head to Charlotte.

      But .45, .40, .380 and .308 have been available if you are lucky enough to show up when they just restocked the shelves.

  9. avatarBill says:

    I remember the frustration of trying to get to walmart within 4 minutes of the ammo shipment arriving 4 years ago and then experiencing the bleak rage of realizing someone beat me to it and cleared out all the .22lr and 9mm or whatever I was searching for. I’m fine with the 3 box limit, it probably saves walmart money by meaning a few less phonecalls about availability.

  10. avatarJoatmon2 says:

    The LGS where I go has been low for a while. They are rationing too. I have over a case of 9mm and about 100 or so rounds of SD ammo but I haven’t shot in about a month.

    • avatarKat says:

      I’m fine with rationing if only Walmart, Academy, Cabelas, they actually had .380 pistol ammo I need for practice before taking TX CHGL range test this coming Sunday.

      • avatarDavid W. says:

        Try going to an actual gun store, you’ll probably pay 10-15 dollars more for a box, but if you tell them that you need it for a class, they might allow you to buy more if they are rationing.

        • avatarKat says:

          I was in my favorite gun shop in Austin yesterday getting a Laser Max installed on Ruger .38 LCR, and asked if they had .380 pistol ammo and gunsmith said they think they have enough for the class on Sunday.
          Guess best news is that he installed the laser sight at the counter while we visited and didn’t charge me – sweet!

  11. avatarWill says:

    I agree with them. They don’t price gouge so someone capild come in buy everything and just resell it for profit. Like that douche in my local Walmart the other day. “I even buy ammo for guns that I don’t even have!” screw you dude, save some for the people that can actually use it. :/

  12. avatarCrazedJava says:

    I’m all for it. I think it’s beyond ridiculous the way people have been buying up ammo like crazy. One salesman at my local Academy talked about finally getting in some 9mm and some guy brought up a shopping cart, walked down the row and just dumped all the boxes into the cart. When he saw someone looking he just smiled and said “Survival of the fittest”

    Gotta say, I’m not so sure I like this “Well I got mine and screw you guys” mentality I’ve been seeing in the gun culture lately.

    • avatarprepfever says:

      It’s probably influenced by the prepper mindset. Dog eat dog. Of course there are preppers that care about others and the community, but there is a large set that engage in cold me-first survival thinking.

      I suppose it will be a valuable mindset after shtf, but I think it is important to refrain from that viewpoint until absolutely necessary, otherwise you are only hastening the downfall of civilization and hurting yourself in the process.

      • avatartama paine says:

        Most preppers I’ve known, and I’ve known, ahem, a lot, want to “hasten the downfall of civilization.” They think it’s going to be a shoot em up video game/party in which they come out on top. Most of those have had NO experience of the kind of hell they fetishize. They are from backgrounds whose dog-eat-dogness was hidden behind political correctness (economic elitism) or the diversions of religious superiority. IOW, pretty naive people who suggest things like laying in supplies of ammo “as wampum for barter.” Yeah, that’s a great idea.

        I admit to some concerns about being able to maintain my rifle and pistol skills without access to bulk ammo at workingman’s prices. But remember, part of the goal of the gun grabbers since at least GCA68 was to price shooting sports and self-defense out of the reach of rank and file Americans.

        Thus we are willing in this household to do without other things–say, donations to political parties–to pay for maintaining the Bill of Rights. But we aren’t getting hysterical on the ammo front any more than on the political front. The historical moment calls for Stoicism.

        Still, we knew something would happen early in Obama 2.0, so over last year laid in a responsible supply just as we have a responsible supply of other things. We are frugal, and we don’t shop retail. I have to laugh when anti-gun acquaintances scream about 1,000 rounds. What? That’s, like, two afternoons at the range, maintaining skills with just one pistol!

        • avatarUSMCVeteran says:

          Most preppers I know reload their own ammo and don’t rely on the store bought stuff.

  13. avatarJake says:

    Its about time. I’m tired of talking to people bragging about how they have 10,000+ rounds of .22′s stockpiled and they are still trolling around buying up every box on the shelves. Some of these guys know the delivery and stocking schedules. They must be turning it around and reselling for a profit, because I just can’t imagine what else they would be doing with it. Meanwhile there’s a lot of new gun owners that can’t go to the range and practice because they can’t get ammo and this hoarding garbage is turning them off to the hobby. Now that Walmart is rationing I bet these trolls will bring along their kids, friends, whatever to get extra ammo. I’d like to see Walmart vary their stocking days and times to keep them guessing. I applaud Walmart for at least trying.

    • avatarrangered says:

      Are you saying that No One NEEDS 10,000 rounds of .22? That sounds suspiciously similar to NO ONE NEEDS an AR15 or NO ONE NEEDS 30Round Magazines. I get rather defensive when other people start to tell me what I NEED or don’t NEED.

      I started increasing my purchases of ammo mid-last year on the small chance that Obama might be re-elected and since he would not have to stand for election again, he would take action on gun control. I counseled friends and family to stock up also. Now they are unable to find ammo when they want to go shoot. Yesterday a friend called and “borrowed” some .22lr from me as he was en rt to the range.

      Yes, I may have more ammo than you think I NEED, but I have less than I WANT and I will continue to purchase and store ammo as I see fit. If you are my friend or family, you are welcome to share mine with me. If I get to the store prior to you, I am not going to wait to see if you need the last box of .22lr, I am going to purchase it. And I will have it for when I do NEED it.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Lighten up, Francis.

        • avatarrangered says:

          I do get a little heavy handed when dealing with people who tell me what I need, be they Sen Feinstein, Sen Schumer, Gov. Cuomo or someone who calls me an ammo troll because they are out of .22lr….its just one of my character flaws…one of many.

      • avatarmike says:

        I hear ya bro. I slowly stocked up all last spring/summer just so I don’t have to depend on ammo stocks at walmart or the local ranges. Friends/family all thought I was nuts. One friend’s exact words were “I rather pay the extra $2 or $3 per box at walmart each range trip instead of worrying about storing ammo at my house.”

        Fast foward to today, now the same family/friends wanna buy guns out of nowhere but have no ammo to shooot with. The same “wise” friend is now even afraid to go to the range for practice or fun… for fear his little stash will dwindle. These are people close to me so of course I hafta provide. But that don’t mean I feel all warm n fuzzy inside. I feel like screaming “I F*CKIN TOLD YOU SO!”

    • avatarRobert M says:

      10,000 rounds of .22lr isn’t even a years supply of ammo for me. I bough 6,000 rounds of 22lr before the election and was working my why up to 10,000 rounds before the supply dried up. I am sitting on only 4,000 rounds right now but haven’t yet slowed down my shotting but I put 2000 rounds aside include this turns into a long time before we can get 22lr in any kind of volume trust 10,000 rounds of 22lr is nothing.

      Thanks
      Robert

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Slow down. Take a breath. Spelling and punctuation are your friends, not your enemies. What you have to say is not so earth-shattering that it has to come rushing out all over your keyboard like a dam breaking. We can wait 30 extra seconds to hear the gut-wrenching story of your ammunition stockpile.

      • avatarrangered says:

        Robert, 4000 rounds isn’t much, but to someone who did not foresee this shortage, you, sir, are a hoarder.

        • avatartama paine says:

          Exactly this.

        • avatarMike A says:

          So people take have taken the time to be prepareded, and make the effort to go stand in line at stores to get ammo or are suddenly “hoarders” or the “bad guy” for taking responsible actions. Everyone here has the same ability to go stand in line and make the effort to procure ammo. I wont be made to “feel guilty” because you didnt prepare. This isnt something that just “suddenly happened”..You’ve know about it for some time as have the rest of us. If you didnt, your head was in the sand. I have zero problem with “Hoarding ammo” if you can get it. I DO have a problem with scalping Ammo-that is buying ammo YOU DONT NEED to re-sale at inflated prices. Having said that If I pass a box of .40 at a walmart but dont own a .40 I will buy it becasue I do know someone who needs it. And Ill sell it to him for what I bought it for. All this demonizing of people who are taking steps to ensure they have enough ammo is juevnile at best. Im sure all you crying about the guy sitting on 10k rds will be the first to tell your neighbor who needs a cple boxes of.22 that you dont have enough to share when and if its “truly needed”. Limits are good thing.- I dont agree with allowing one person to buy the entire shelf. But stop acting as if the guy who thought ahead, bought for years, and continues to add to his stock is the bad guy. You had the same opportunity to make the same scarifices he did. This “who needs that much ammo” argument stinks to high heaven of a Feinstein or Bloomberg tactic. You run the danger of becoming a hypocrit of the same order they are.

  14. avataradamt says:

    The store I work at has only been selling 1box of 9mm at a time and only when you rent a gun for the range . Other then that no over the counter sales

  15. avatarDBeans says:

    Private companies can do as they please to make there customers happy just glad the government hasn’t decided to get involved to screw things up

    • avatarTim McNabb says:

      The government is involved, screwing it up. The scarcity is 100% a result of the threat of the government acting. Elections have consequences. Electing politicians who do not revere the Constitution, particularly the 2nd Amendment, has grave consequences.

      • avatarhmmmmmmmm says:

        Yeah this is totally Obama’s fault, not at all the fault of gun nut retards who think that the world is going to end and buy up everything on the shelf whenever they see it, which in fact creates the very situation they want to avoid.

        The game theory behind this situation has been very well understood for decades – it’s just a shame that so many people are too dumb to get it.

        • avatarjwm says:

          Course, this could also mean, in spite of the grabbers wishful thinking, that there are more gun owners in America than there ever was. All this ammo, hundreds of millions of rounds, isn’t being hoarded by a hand full of “gun nuts”.

          If you think about this it’s good news for our side and one reasons the new gun control propasols are pretty much dead in the water.

          And with the courts still coming down on our side it will be ever more likely that places like Ill. and Ca. will be shall issue.

          Party on “Gun Nuts”.

        • avatarEric says:

          I could not agree with you more. This shortage is a result of a bunch of nut-cases who think the government is comming to get them. People, if the government is comming to get you a .22 is not going to save you, get real people, relax.

  16. avatarjmk says:

    what would be GREAT is if the online shops would do it, too!

  17. avatarA Trusted Friend in Science says:

    I’m fine with them setting limits. I saw reps from the LGS come in and clean out the shelves at Walmart, and the same ammo is now sitting at a ridiculous markup in their store. I know, capitalism, but when they send employees over every day to get everything it’s frustrating.

    • avatarBill says:

      When this insanity comes to an end, people will remember the assholes who were gouging and never enter their stores again.
      Fortunately most reputable GSOs don’t gouge.
      This ammo hoarding will be just like the Housing Boom……..idiots buying ammo at 2-5 times the going rate will be left with maxxed out credit cards and ammo that is worth 30% of what they paid for it.

  18. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    Hmmm…

    Every time people make a run on the ammo shelves, whatever conflagration or long term shortage against which they were preparing fails to materialize.

    And as these events are of course seldom heralded, it’s not as though manufacturers and shippers could prepare.

    However, now that there is serious talk of controlling ammo in addition to arms, methinks the time might be right to stock a li’l extra.

    ‘Course, Wally World never has carried what I use, but Cabella’s is gonna love me…

    Not that I worry about “them” taking anything from “us,” other than the “right” to sell anything to anyone, but “they” can and likely shall make things a tidge inconvenient.

    Russ

  19. Living here, in the Florida Keys, the nearest Walmart, is at the beginning, “Florida City”… Great neighborhood!…i usually carry 2 Guns, while shopping there!… lol]. I shopped there Rarely, being so far away, lately while there, only had 3 boxes of .410 slugs!…i bought 2!… As i have the “Judge”, my Bond Arms, “Snake Slayer IV, and a 5 shot tubular feed, rifle, i’ve hunted with 40 odd years!… Nothing, for my other Guns!…. [No Way, to Order, & pick up, Either?...].

  20. avatarMike in NC says:

    Tried to post yesterday (1/30) when the article was up briefly…

    I’ve seen the three box limit signs at two Wal-Marts and one of them actually had about 40 boxes of 9mm on the shelf for sale last Thursday (1/24). By the time someone with a key could be located, there were four customers waiting for that 9mm. I left the store with three 50 round boxes of Federal 115gr FMJ as did each of the three others who were waiting. The price on those Federal 9mm boxes had gone up slightly from $12.97 to $13.97. That store also had a small variety of .30-06, but little else.

  21. avatarrangered says:

    I make a daily pilgrimage to my local Wally World to check out what ammo they have gotten in. When VP Biden was having his dog and pony shows, I hand delivered a letter to the manager of my store, advising her of my concern that Walmart might capitulate to pressure from the administration. She told me that daily she was getting complaints from customers about the lack of ammo for sale.

    I spoke to her again on the day that the company instituted this policy and she assured me it was simply due to customer complaints and was seen by the company as the only way to “share”the scarce commodity amongst all of its customers.

    She knew that I would buy a case of what ever they had shipped in and was relieved when I told her that I had no problem as long as it was across the board and without exception. She told me that she approved massive orders each day, but the product was simply not in the warehouses at this time.

    The department manager has told me that they had representatives from small mom and pop stores come in prior to the new policy and buy all the stock of whatever ammo they had because Walmart’s price was less than their distributors were now charging them. In one case he heard the other store owner tell a customer to come on down to his store and he would re-sell him the ammo the man had just bought, but after a suitable markup. That caused some bad feelings.

    He assured me also that there is no nefarious plan to eliminate ammo sales at Walmart, they are just trying to appease as many customers as possible.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      When supply is constrained to levels significantly below demand, the new factor to optimize for is customer satisfaction. Anyone who doesn’t understand that consumer trust and satisfaction are at the top of the list for any retail operation hasn’t been paying attention for at least 10 years.

      If you make one “lottery winner” (aka the person who walked in just as the shelves get restocked) happy because they can buy up every box, you’ve created one happy customer and dozens if not hundreds of disappointed ones. That’s a seriously negative outcome for the day.

      If you limit everyone to N boxes per caliber, then a larger number of people leave happy with some ammo, and the remaining prospective buyers who didn’t get any from that shipment are more likely to be neutral (and remain hopeful) because they perceive the system to be fair. That’s a positive outcome, though to be fair not as positive as everybody who shows up getting 100% of what they want and can afford.

      Limiting purchase quantities to maximize customer satisfaction is sound business practice when supply is constrained.

  22. avatarJAS says:

    What I really want to know is why is this shortage happening?

    I find it hard to believe that ammo manufacturers would not be running shop 24/7 and cashing in on this surge. It doesn’t make sense at all. What makes sense is that they are either diverting production to very high volume contracts or there is a shortage of components.. Doubling the price of ammo and not selling much of it doesn’t work for them either…

    I can speculate all day long and still be wrong. We will not know the real reasons until TTAG contacts the ammo and component manufacturers with a “wassup?”. How about it guys?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      On it.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      America runs on a “just in time” system. Stores keep only enough on hand to get them to their next expected delivery, based on historical and expected sales, plus a small overage. In the case of Walmart, that next delivery could literally be within a day or two. For some stores, it might be a whole week. Distributors similarly keep enough on hand to service their customer base, multiplied by let’s say a factor of two. Some distributors may keep more, subject to dollar cost averaging, but not all. Manufacturers generally do not sit on their product; they ship it out pretty quickly after making it. There’s a little slack in the system, but not a lot. When demand suddenly increases literally exponentially — that’s tenfold if not more — it’s pretty easy to deplete the supply line very quickly.

      • avatarJAS says:

        Agreed, but they could up production by running 24/7 shifts and win big. I would in their shoes. Money talks. If I can make it I will.

        Speculation again, but there could also be an union contract component at play here if the shops are unionized.

    • avatarrangered says:

      The military and the Depart of Home Security, the EPA swat team, the IRS swat team, etc, etc, have all placed orders for millions of rounds-in some cases billions of rounds over the last year or two. The manufacturers have a finite number of rounds they can produce. The system is taxed. Now add the civilian shooters, who have grown in number and in many cases use the same ammo as the military/Po-lice do, and you see that there are an ever increasing number of hands reaching for the same amount of ammo.

      Have the manufacturers increased their capabilities, yes, but its a tricky problem in that they do not want to spend too much money and be stuck with unused manufacturing ability if either the demand decreases or the Gub’ment makes private ownership of more than one bullet at a time illegal.

      • avatarRKflorida says:

        Those large government orders were spread over 5 years, so I don’t believe that is the source of this shortage. However, other large government purchases that we don’t know about may be a factor, if you are into conspiracy stuff.

        • avatartama paine says:

          Hear hear. Government contracts are generally NOT conducted on a JIT basis. Things must be bought for multiple-year periods of time–a biennium, an administration, a window of time before an accounting rule change, whatever.

          People are buying more than the ammo manufacturers can produce. The latter need to figure out how to keep up with the new demand…if it sustains, and it may not. I base that on talking to regional ammo manufacturers after the hysteria of late ’08 whipped up by NRA. Some of them amped up their production lines, hired workers…and as soon as people found something else to be hysterical about, demand went down again.

          These demand fluctuations incentivize JIT management methods, BTW. And BTW, I’m an NRA member (and GOA, SAF, and some others).

    • avatarBob says:

      +1 on this. To much silence on where the ammo is and no word from the industry about what they’re doing to refill. If this were lettuce or ipods we were taking about it would on the tongue of every media outlet.

      At least run me off some 22LR.

      Let’em know I’ll come help run the machines on the weekends. Now it’s quite possible a few finished rounds might fall into my pocket….

      • avatarJoshinGA says:

        I would hope they are already running on weekends…and around the clock 24/7. But I agree, we need word from the suppliers: what the heck is going on?

  23. avatarTexanHawk says:

    I’d be fine with 3 boxes… if they had that. No 9mm, no .40, no .357, no .38, no .223 at my local Wally’s (5 within 20 miles).

    Driving through Sweetwater, Tx on Friday night and I needed wiper blades. Walked by the sporting goods and almost fell over. I thought that perhaps the nation’s biggest retailer had folded under the political pressure; the gun displays were completely empty.

    If this continues I’m going to get a little rusty because I’m not going to the range and using up the little ammo stock I have.

  24. avatarFrancesco says:

    The NRA Headquarters Range in Fairfax, VA, is limiting ammo sales too, according to their Facebook page.

  25. avatarJoshinGA says:

    3 boxes would be more than Ive seen at Wallyworld in over a month. In any caliber.

  26. avatarscottlac says:

    It should slow down the dreaded “Brass Locusts”.

  27. avatarstormchaser says:

    Ammo is certainly scarce, I had picked up some 9mm and .38 three weeks ago but nothing since. I would like to have some more 5.56 but have only seen it a couple of times at prices which are adjusted based on supply and demand (that’s how it works).

    As far as production I can assure you that the manufacturers are working full-tilt, it will take a while as all the ammo on the store shelves, as well as the ammo in the back room and in every distributor’s warehouse has disappeared. Just think about how much ammo has been sold.

    I am glad Wal-mart is doing this in stead of adjusting their price. If you really need ammo you can pay through the nose or drive around town and hit all the Wal-marts.
    I have seen some online ammo limit purchases to single case quantities.

    I think the shortage will last a long time as everyone now wants to pick up more ammo than they need in order to stockpile. Ranges and law enforcement agencies are also running out, I would have thought they would have stocked a good deal more and would not doubt if they increase their inventory levels as well. Personally I will be picking up a couple of ammo cans and some descant and storing a bit more when supplies come back as well as picking up a little bit for calibers I don’t currently shoot.

    Think about it from a preparedness mindset in relation to other supplies we depend on that could be affected by local emergencies or transportation interruptions such as gas, Diesel, propane, kerosene, medication/antibiotics, food, etc etc…

    • avatarrangered says:

      I check some of the local outdoor forums daily and can not believe some of the prices being asked for ammunition and for AR type weapons…..stupid crazy prices…but the next day the ad is gone, apparently someone paid the asking price.

      I do wonder if a year from now we are going to look at the price of ammunition and wonder if what seems inflated today won’t be quite reasonable and we will kick ourselves for not stocking up….or hopefully, those inflated prices of today will be recognized as just a blip..a bubble which has burst and returned to what we all think of as normal.

      But most of us can remember when we were unable to imagine paying what we do for ammo now.

  28. avatarSkeev says:

    I don’t mind, it’s probably the only reason I got luck last week and found bulk boxes of 22lr at Wal Mart.

    The problem isn’t so much the hoarders anymore as it is the people buying it just to flip it either in a gun store or on gun broker.

  29. avatarmiforest says:

    last time I planned to go shooting with son, it 2 boxes of 9mm eeven though the limit was 6 . as long as the “I will buy every round they have ” this problem will persist. If you have a few boxes, then don’t buy any more than what you are ging to shoot on the next trip.

    people who think they are going to make $ on this are in for a big surprise. as soon as the supply normalizes, the prices will fall like a rock . all that 223 they bought at a $1 a round will be bact to being worth $ .35 a round. Ammo in no like rifles, nobody is trying to ban ammo.

  30. avatarTim McNabb says:

    As a man who appreciates economics, I think I would rather see the price of ammo be driven by demand rather than limiting the price and rationing.

    We would much more quickly see prices reach an equilibrium. Manufacturers would have incentive to increase supply to grab up the sweet-sweet profits, and buyers would begin thinking twice about hoarding.

    You can have all the product you want at market prices, or you can have a scarce product at a fixed price. Those are the only options.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Tim, the problem I have with that premise is that it assumes some reasonable degree of elasticity in the ability of manufacturers to ship more product to market. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the existing ammo manufacturing infrastructure is running at 100% of possible throughput, yet we’re still seeing massive shortages. So now what?

      My understanding is that manufacturing ammo in high volume requires specialized machinery. From my knowledge of lead times required to order and install similar made-to-order equipment in other industries, I would be shocked if they could get more capacity online in less than 5-6 months.

      And that’s assuming that they have a more-or-less unrestricted supply of feedstock, i.e. brass tubing, lead, copper, gunpowder, etc.

      Let’s assume that we are at the upper limits of supply elasticity for the next 5 months, at least, assuming that the ammo makers are willing to dump a bunch of capital into infrastructure to meet demand that may or may not be present in Q3/2013. Now what?

      Therein lies my problem with the pure-economics approach. It frequently ignores the annoying, messy real world in favor of some frictionless model which assumes that humans are purely rational actors and there’s no reason to avoid rebalancing the system to meet current demand.

    • avatarChris says:

      What should be done is an organized attempt to undercut these price gouging idiots to drive them out of the market. Buy up stock at Walmart, then underbid them majorly so that they no longer have the motivation to rape stock of the local stores which will return the stock levels to normal as local demand normalizes.. Post it for a markup but WAY WAY below the price gougers, enough to cover your expenses.

  31. avatarGherkin says:

    RF was interviewed on the radio here in Austin yesterday about the Wal-Mart decision, he did a great job explaining the motives of gun owners and the buying frenzy. Thanks RF!

  32. avatarIn Memphis says:

    The only dissapointment to me was walking in to my local Wally World and seeing 7 boxes of Federal .40 JHPs but a sign saying 3 boxes per customer. Still, it was relly nice seeing .40 on the shelf again.

    • avatarrangered says:

      My Walmart has had the same 6 boxes of Hornady Zombie Max .40cal for weeks now. It has gotten to be a joke between the employees and customers, wondering if anyone will buy them. For some reason at this store, .40cal and 22-250 hangs around forever. Oh, and .22shorts at 9.97 for 50.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        What is it with .22-250? Is that the world’s most over-produced and under-utilized cartridge? Every Walmart I’ve been in has had at least a half-dozen boxes and very little else.

        • avatar16V says:

          The one I’m still seeing everywhere is 7mm Rem.

          20 boxes per store, always.

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          I never thought I’d see the day when .22 Win Mag looked tempting, but there it is in the online ammo stores.

          Tempting enough that I did some research to see if my 22LR lever gun could be reworked to shoot 22WM. (Short answer: no.)

        • avatarjwm says:

          AG, I have a mag cylinder for my Ruger single six. It’s quite a good shooter. Of course it’s single action and a bit slow to reload. But that makes your ammo last longer and makes you want to be careful in choosing your shots. Win-Win at the range.

  33. avatarC. Walther says:

    All I’m gonna say is this morning at Wal-Mart was the first time I’ve seen 5.56 on a shelf since December.

    On the other side of the equation, I have consistently seen a minimum of four boxes of Winchester PDX1 in .45 Long Colt at any given store I go to. All of a sudden, owning a Judge doesn’t seem so (well, as) dumb.

  34. avatarDisThunder says:

    It looks like everybody’s in the same boat here- As long as Wal-Mart can get it to their shelves, and they’re not jacking their prices, 3 boxes a day seems pretty reasonable.

    • avatarDr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      They were rationing at my local Walmart before Newtown, they’d only let me buy 6 boxes at a time..

  35. avatarMatt Gregg says:

    Remember the old panic after Obama’s election in 2008? A friend of my dad’s was whining about the ammo shortage, he couldn’t understand why ammo was so hard to find. Every time he saw .380 ACP ammo he would buy all he could. By March of 2009 he was sitting on 6,000 or more rounds of .380 ammo and bitching that he couldn’t find anymore. It never occurred to him that, because of selfish people like him, the ammo supply had dwindled.

    • avatarmike says:

      He’s only selfish if he just sits on them instead of actually shooting them… or at least trying to resell them for profit or trade. The act of sitting and doing nothing whatsoever is selfish imo.

      • avatarrangered says:

        After I hit the lottery I am building the Scrooge McDuck Memorial Ammunition Vault and will fill it half way up with 5.56 ammunition and then roll around nekkid in it all day long……BRAWHAHAHAHAHAH.

  36. avatarRich says:

    I live in New England.

    Two nights ago I was in my local gun store when someone called looking for ammo.

    The caller was from Georgia.

  37. avatarAharon says:

    I’m fine with stores limiting ammo sales. They still don’t have in stock the .22LR that I want.

  38. avatarphantom72 says:

    This has been my ammo strategy…every time I get a paycheck, I spend 30 bucks on ammo. All in need is 9mm, .22lr, 12 & 20 gauge. If I find a sale, and I have the cash, I stock up. I have been doing this since last “ammo shortage”, or roughly 2-3 years now. I have a good stash, with plenty to go practice, hunt, or plinking with the kids. I have a good stash of ammo, without a big sacrifice money wise. It has worked ok for me.

  39. avatarmike says:

    The capitalist side of me says…to hell with box limits. If i happen to be there at the right time and can afford to buy them all, that’s my freedom to do so. If someone else should get there before me and do the same thing, well good for them. I’ll take my chances again next time. The compassionate/socialist side of me says… ok sure 3 boxes for everyone sounds fair. At least more than 1 person gets to be a little happy with something.

  40. avatarDerryM says:

    Rationing ammo sales to three boxes per Customer is okay with me. I’d rather more people could shoot a bit, than a bunch of OFWBHAG’s sitting on tens of thousands of rounds they won’t live long enough to shoot.
    I’ve heard tales of new (first time) gun owners getting one box of ammo for their new treasure at the time of sale, then not yet being able to get any more. You can’t learn to shoot with only fifty rounds, and if you use all fifty, what are you going to do for home defense?…throw the effing gun at your assailant?…try to “pistol whip” him?… You’d be better off to have bought a spear and sword….
    Ranges should be pro-rating their Range Fees for anyone with only fifty rounds to shoot, and I have been to Ranges who will only sell one pack of fifty for each different caliber centerfire gun the shooter has brought with them when using the Range, but refusing to sell anything to anyone who’s just trying to buy ammo.
    Will be interested to see what RF finds out from the Manufacturers. The ammo shortage is effectively disarming many Citizens…another argument for no new gun prohibition laws.

  41. avatarSGC says:

    “You can have all the product you want at market prices, or you can have a scarce product at a fixed price. Those are the only options.”

    Hmmm…it’s already scarce…so I’ll take the fixed price. If someone had done this with AR15′s and PMAGs we wouldn’t be paying $3000 for a Carbon 15 and $60 each for magazines on GunBrokeYa.com now. More people who want/need guns -ammo-etc would have them, instead of them sitting in someones underground bunker being rationed out online at ridiculous prices.

    There has to be a balance: between capitalism/free markets and greedy price gouging profiteers. AND…I’d rather see business/manufacurers/distributors handle it than Uncle Sambo.

  42. avatarJim R says:

    You know what, I’m totally OK with this. Every gun shop in my area is doing this to some degree or another to prevent the same 5-6 yahoos from raiding the store shelves every 2-3 days. While it won’t fix the problem entirely, it gives the other couple hundred thousand of us around here a more even shot at it (because my schedule does not allow me to be at Wal-Mart at 6 AM when their shipments come in).

  43. avatarKCK says:

    Make many a little happy, instead of one happy, most angry.
    Sounds like a legitimate marketing strategy.
    I doubt it is the De Beers diamond supply strategy.

  44. avatarAJ says:

    Wal-Mart here in SoCal (818 area code) have long had a limit of 6 boxes. It does not matter how many rounds are in the box. So if it’s a brick of 500 .22, you get 6. If it’s a box of 10 .00 buckshot, you get 6. Weird.

  45. avatarrangered says:

    Question: On the picture that accompanies this article at the top, it says at the bottom “Backordered-Expected Availability December 16,2013″. I have several items on backorder thru some of the major sites and on each, the date of expected availability keeps changing and jumping back in the calendar year with a pattern that seems totally random. My question is this……Is there One Big Wheel of Expected Availability that the web sites call each morning and while they are on the line, some gnome spins the wheel and whatever date comes up is what they put that day on the backordered item? If so, it is starting to make sense to me.

  46. avatarLance says:

    Not just Wal-mart Bi-mart and even maybe Cabella’s is doing it. People clean out ammo too fast and many costumers want it its just a way to spread ammo shipments long enough to get enough costumers satisfied.

  47. avatarRob Eide says:

    I really can’t say I feel sorry for anyone complaining they cannot find ammo. Sounds like you did’nt learn anything from last time around.
    My wife and I will usually purchace a couple of boxes every time we go to W.M. We have been doing it since mid 2007. This has let us go to the range almost weekly and shooting 500-1000 rounds of misc. calibers. Her favorite .45 Colt L.A. was getting a little expensive until I started reloading for it.

  48. avatarKyle says:

    I am ok with people buying large capacities of ammo even now. Why? you may ask. It is because with this increased demand for ammo more manufactures are going to look into increasing there capacity to manufacture ammunition. Thus more jobs will be created, most of these hires will become more pro gun because it is now part of their financial security. Then the industry will expand making Washington D.C. more dependent on this economic growth (for more tax revenue) making it more likely that placing ammo and firearms restrictions is the effective end of a politician’s career before they are even on the ballot for their party.

  49. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    Hmmm…

    7.62x54r and 7.62x38r Nagant; WW never heard of those sizes, but Cabella’s is overflowing with ‘em.

    A lot of folks at the range make fun o’ my antique Russian stuff, but ‘twould appear that the less traveled road has fewer potholes.

    I get deer with iron sights and very few misses, and at home the pistol is loaded with MS 108s which clock near 1100 FPS. Life is good.

    Russ

  50. avatarjk says:

    The prices for 22lr are being set on auction sites like gunbroker.com. As long as retailers are selling it for less, it will disappear because of the opportunity to resell. So if you need it, it is available in large quantities. Raise prices until the inventory remains, eventually there will be “sales” to clear excess inventory and the resellers will dump.

  51. avatarTom says:

    I haven’t been able to get rimfire 22Lr; 357 or 38 sp centerfire ammo for 6 weeks at my local walmart in DE even though I’ve heard there have been deliveries. I put an order for 22Lr in at Midwayusa on 12/21/12 and that’s backordered until the end of February and they’re limiting bulk ammo (525, 325 per bx) to 4 each. Fortunately I’ve been able to order some 38 & 357 centerfire ammo but that is in limited brands and quantities and it’s the more expensive plus add shipping and it’s $30 for 50 rounds. I hope this crap ends soon. I prefer shooting my 22 rifle and M&P 22 S&W

  52. avatarjon fisher says:

    We need to boycott Walmart stores until they service all customer needs. This is discrimination that must stop.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      What?

      What is discrimination?

      • avatarjon fisher says:

        In this country when you don’t like something they call it discrimination. For example if a person is fired for coming in late for work every day he sues for discrimination or if someone didn’t vote for Obama they call it discrimination. Why can’t gun owners sue because they are refused ammunition because they are a group of people who want to protect themselves if needed. Guns are like a parachute, if you need one and don’t have one you may never need one again.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          “Why can’t gun owners sue because they are refused ammunition…?”

          Because it’s stupid.

          But that wasn’t my question. What is Walmart doing that you feel is discrimination that deserves a boycott?

        • avatarjon fisher says:

          In this country you can sue anyone for any reason. Walmart has the ammo at the warehouses but are afraid to ship because of the anti-gun political atmosphere. In this country the one who yells the loudest gets what they want. With your timid attitude you will get very little in life. Since you rather waste time on stupid e-mails instead of receiving ammo this is my last e-mail to you. I agree to disagree.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          “Walmart has the ammo at the warehouses but are afraid to ship because of the anti-gun political atmosphere.”

          Citation, please? I’m serious. Give me one solid, verifiable piece of evidence of this statement being factual. Everything I’ve heard, and read, and personally been told runs counter to your claim. Give me a reason to think you’re not just making stuff up to be angry about.

          “In this country the one who yells the loudest gets what they want. With your timid attitude you will get very little in life.”

          That sounds pretty childish. Is that your reaction to not getting what you want? Balling up your widdle fists and stamping your widdle feet?

          How did you get that I have a timid attitude? You called Walmart’s “actions” discriminatory. I asked what you perceived those actions to be. There’s nothing about that question that gives any indication as to the boldness of my character. It’s a question.

  53. avatarEd in Montana says:

    I live in Helena,MT. There is NO 22LR, no 223/5.56 NATO,or 9mm ammo period. There is no 223 brass, bullets or dies, 2 bags of 100 9mm brass and no bullets or dies. small pistol and small rifle primers are non- existent. Walmart, Sportsmans Warehouse, Bob Wards, and the two locally owned gunshops- the same story everywhere-nuthin’.
    Last weekend I went to our local gunshow, put on by the MT Weapon Collector Society. There were far less tables than previous shows and I attend regularly. The price of admission goes up with every show and if even if you have a permit to carry- I do, issued and signed by our county sheriff- they demand you check your weapon at the door. Apparently if you had a table there you were exempt from this requirement It was very obvious. Sorry about digressing but this really pissed me off.
    I was basically there to score some ammo/ 9mm dies.I figured I might pay a bit more but I was ok with that if I saw what I was looking for. What a revelation!
    I found out where all the ARs, dies, components, ammunition, etc. went in my area.
    2 grand won’t buy a low grade AR here .I counted 72 ARs of from dubious to first rate quality-6 tables. A pitted incomplete set of 9mm dies-50 bucks. 20 rounds 223 55 gr. ammunition-50 bucks. So on and so on. Call me cheap but I didn’t buy anything. I’ll smelt my own metal first or start building my own drones. There you have it. This is the present state of affairs for shooters in the big sky country and I suspect in the rest of the country as well.
    One last thing and this regards Walmart- one of the exhibitors at this show I recognized as an employee at the facility where I work. He was bragging to his cohorts at his table about paying the Walmart sporting goods staff for information regarding their gun and ammo shipments. He sends his sons and he has a few down at the appropriate time based on this info– and voila !
    Well, the other day , he came to my department, said he saw me at the show, and asked me if I bought anything there. I said no and then he tried to make me “special” deals. The same overpriced “deals” he was hawking at his gunshow table. I declined after making some very pointed comments.
    I am 60 years old and served two tours as a combat medic in ‘Nam. I have an education , work and have raised a family. I have seen this B.S. regarding guns and ammo before and I believe that it will pass just as it has before. That doesn’t make me feel any better about whats happening and I would discourage anyone from giving A**holes like these guys the satisfaction. Left-wing gungrabbers are not our only enemy.

  54. avatarAmmo says:

    I find this situation particulary insteresting to watch play out. The problem isn’t that Walmart is stock-piling ammo and keeping it from the public. The problem is the import laws on the powder (put in plae last year) and the contracts that the major manufacturing company’s have with federal, state and local governments. They(the agencies) have a contract with ammunition suppliers for a set price. As things unfolded late last year, the agencies knew that prices were going to soar due to impending legislation. Their contracts have an end date, as do all, and once they are up, the price for them will go up based on supply and demand. If they can get a couple years worth now at a lower price that’s what they will do. It makes financial sense to them…just like the average consumer. The problem is….the manufacturer’s can’t supply places like your local gun store or even Walmart, as big as you think they are, they pale in comparison, when they are overwhelmed with contract work…putting them 1-2 years behind.

    So there you have it..A perfect storm for the average consumer. Lets not also forget that there are some things going on in the world requiring some possible ammunition.

    On a good note…this is the perfect time for new small business’s to come up and prove their worthiness and dedication. Don’t overlook a new manufacturer, they may be the next big thing if they don’t over charge!

  55. avatarpaul chrisney says:

    Just remember that Walmart is the enemy, no one should even shop there. From what I have heard, much of the ammo bought at Walmart is bought by people that either put it up on the net, or sell to or put it up for sale at their own gun store, since a small gun store can’t get enough ammo either.

  56. avatarIcabod says:

    The Walmart near me hasn’t had 9mm on their shelves in over a year. When last I spoke with the salesclerk she explained the shipment comes in the night before and goes on the self in the morning.all I had to do was call each night and be in line the next day. “All the regulars do this.” Seems there’s a small group that will buy out the shipment as some as it comes out.

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