About two months ago, for two weeks in early October, the local WalMart near to my daughter’s place in North Dallas had .22 Federal Champion ammunition available for less than five cents per round. It was in 50-round boxes, at $2.47 per box, with a limit of three boxes per customer. I checked again, on November 24th . . .

The shelves were once again empty of inexpensive .22 rimfire.  There were a few boxes of CCI .22 LR shotshells at $7.87 per box. That is about 39.2 cents per round. You can easily find it for that price on the Internet. Some places are carrying it as low as 28.5 cents per round, in the 20 round box. The price for CCI .22 LR shotshells is the same in that WalMart as it was in early October.

A number of significant events have occurred since the middle of October, any one of which could cause a resurgence in demand for .22 LR ammunition. The rampage shooting in Colorado, the increase in knife attacks in Israel, the jihadi attack in Paris, calls for more gun control in the United States, and President Obama’s statement that he will push hard for more gun control in his final year in the big chair.

All of those things make people who believe that they don’t have a sufficient stock of .22 ammunition for potential bad times, increased federal legal restrictions, or who may face extra burdens placed on them by local governments, have reason to buy some more ammunition. This keeps the demand high.

Component costs of ammunition have dropped tremendously. Lead and other metal prices are down; oil and other feedstocks for making gunpowder are down. The price of a 12 gauge shotgun shell, which uses more than 10 times the components of a .22 cartridge (ll times the lead, 20 times the gunpowder, a separate wad, and intricate primer that the .22 does not need)  is commonly available for 22 cents a round.

If demand were to drop, there is reason to believe that .22 ammunition would be available at about 3 cents a cartridge. I purchased bulk .22 (Federal Champions) for just over 3 cents a round in 2012. At that point, oil prices and metal prices were much higher than they are now.

It is clear that political fears are sustaining the .22 LR bubble. .22 LR is available, but you have to hunt to find it for less than 8 cents a cartridge. There was plenty of .22 available in Sprague’s, a local gun store in Yuma.  But most of it was at 10 cents a round, or more.

All of the Democrat candidates have indicated that they wish to install new, stricter gun control measures. We may have to wait until a Republican President is elected and in office before the demand for .22 LR drops enough to bust the .22 LR ammunition bubble.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

87 Responses to The Return of the .22 Ammo Drought?

  1. Reloaded 9mm; 22lr replacement.

    The only 22lr I shoot now is from a bolt action. My sig522 sbr and the sig1911-22 sit unused (but not unloved).

    • Same here. Reloaded 9mm has almost completely taken over shooting 22lr for me. At $65/500 for 147gn subsonic, its not much more than 22lr, I can shoot as much as I want, and it’s way more fun.

  2. The next Great Big Runup is right around the corner – now is the time to buy.
    I’ve had good luck at my local Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods in White Plains, NY.
    Walmart has an excellent brand of ammo – Perfecta – 9.99 or so for 50 rounds of brass-cased 9mm
    FMJ for example…

    • That Perfecta 9mm fmj is good stuff. Cheap, goes bang every time, and leaves less fouling than other cheap ammo. I’ve currently got about 300 rounds of it in my stock of practice ammo.

      Unfortunately, the .22 lr drought never really let up in the Eastern WA N-Idaho area as far as I can tell. My local Wal-mart hasn’t had a reliable stock since 2013, and although the biggest gun dealer in my neck of the woods has had some more often than not over the last year, the prices never went down below 10 cents per round. Is teh sadz.

      • Perfecta .357 and .38 is also really cheap (forgot the exact pricing). Their brass cases are REALLY smooth… I noticed they pop out cleaner and faster from my GP100 than any other brand. Not important during target practice, but during any sort of match where speed is of the essence it helps.

  3. I don’t think we are going to see a Republican president .If we do ,this will be the last time ,as Obama’s bringing in of illegals and so called immigrants by the thousands will vote Democrat .thus giving them the majority I hope I’m wrong

    • Your an insane optimist. Hillary is going to be our next president unless she gets killed in the next year. Guarantee it.

        • Hillary will win. Trump can’t beat her and the GOP plan of action is: Plan A) hope for trump to walk under a piano; Plan B) hope trump will walk under a piano

        • You act like I support her, I don’t. I despise her with every bone in my body, but she is going to win none the less. We must prepare ourselves rather than stick our heads in the sand and pretend like its not so.

        • “We must prepare ourselves rather than stick our heads in the sand and pretend like its not so.”

          At this point in the race, there’s a near *zero* chance the House will flip to the Left.

          All bills originate in the House, so gun control will be a non-starter for The HildaBeast.

          She’ll have executive orders, and that’s about it.

        • And rest assured, Hillary would use them. If she’s in the Oval Office, Obama’s reign as the underminer-in-chief will look restrained by comparison.

      • You’re crazy if you think Hilary is going to win. She won’t even be the nominee. I guarantee it! I know you’re not rooting for her, but either way it won’t be her. The polls now have almost every republican candidate beating her. The Dems will never take the chance of losing, even with the Clinton Machine. Unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to see the actual nominee until right before the primary. It will be Biden or Bloomberg. PRAY IT’S NOT BLOOMBERG!

    • Like it matters? Republicans are interested in nothing but taking away your liberties, perhaps at a slightly slower rate.

      • +1 ever so slightly
        ——
        But back on topic, I saw how everything disappeared right after Obama got elected the first time. I stocked up on 22 back then but also stopped shooting it almost entirely.

        It’s funny how dispatching armadillos will change your minimum caliber for just about everything else.

    • People were in a paranoid panic about Obama passing gun laws….NEVER HAPPENED.
      Now imbeciles are going to start that up again because of Clinton????? Stupid paranoid idiots have killed off cheap 22 LR.
      The House and Senate will remain GOP so why all the inbred, moronic stupidity…..checks and balances was built into the government.
      I did have an opportunity to buy Remington Thunderbolts and Golden bullets but passed since they are very crappy rounds. My one full case of CCI Blazer 22s will last me quite a while

  4. The wal-mart here never had 22lr on the shelf the 2-3 times I checked. My LGSes has never had a time I’ve gone in and they’ve been out though. Not the cheapest but not gouging either.

    That being said, I’d be curious to see what the sales trends for 22lr are over years. We had a record month for background checks and we’re going into a time where people may be getting their first .22 and in turn they’re going to need some food for it.

  5. The return of the drought? Except getting lucky once or twice, I haven’t seen a brick since Sandy hook. I think I’ve bought 500 rounds total in the entire time. Any other caliber, I can get cheaply. Except 22 lr and 22 mag.

  6. It makes no sense why .22 is still so expensive and hard to find. I can find brass 9mm for $0.19 online and like 24 cents in stores all day long. 5.56 also seems to be common and reasonably priced. Why is the round that is likely the least susceptible to political interferences is the one round that is not recovering from the scare of 2012?

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if 100 million of the 300 million guns in the U.S. are chambered in .22 long rifle. That’d do it.

    • On a guess, there’s less profit per round, unit weight, or whatever, so the manufacturers would rather focus on rounds that make them money.

      • US .22LR factories are running 24/7, and adding capacity. Nobody’s opting to cut back on .22LR in favor of other rounds. CCI alone said they were shipping 4 million rounds per day two years ago.

  7. I suppose I’ve been lucky. I’ve bought roughly 4500 rounds of 22 in the last six months. Two 1400 round buckets, three 500 round boxes, a few boxes of MiniMags and Colibris. I think I may have another 500 rounds or so that I buy here and there.

    Most of that has been getting to know the folks at the gun counter of my sporting goods store. As soon as I walk in, they’ll grab whatever is on the shelf at a nickel or less per round. And hand it to me. Other than the buckets, they do have 500 round/day limits, so it isn’t all lollipops and rainbows.

    It’s cheap 9mm that giving me more fits.

      • I’m thinking about it. I did the math once and figured I need to produce about 3000 rounds to make it worthwhile.

        If I pick up a M1 or reasonably priced 1903 (ha!), working 30-06 should make the economies of reloading a bit more viable.

        • Yes, larger rounds do make more financial sense to reload. But rifle ammo like 30-06 usually takes much more time than pistol fodder (with case prep.) Especially if you use progressive press.
          I enjoy reloading almost as much as shooting. With casting and powder coating my own bullets I can shoot hundreds of .44 magnums without worrying about my bank account.
          On the other hand you can really find the perfect load tuned to your gun and than you may not even care how much time and money you spend making it.

  8. Good thing I have no desire to ever shoot 22 again…yeah buy all you can-preferably more deadly rounds…

    • Having a solid supply of .22 on hand to teach new shooters is always important. Also, why would you not want to shoot it? Sometimes its fun to shoot something with no recoil and it will still put holes in stuff.

      • True, but it is also great for small game. Squirrels and rabbits around here don’t let you get close enough for a shotgun, I personally don’t enjoy biting down on pellets anyhow, and there isn’t much left of a tree-rat after it gets hit by a 5.56 or .30.
        I’m saving .22 for when meat isn’t going to be found on shelves anymore, and use the cheap 7.62 for plinking.

        • “I’m saving .22 for when meat isn’t going to be found on shelves anymore, and use the cheap 7.62 for plinking.”

          In the early 70’s I asked my grandpaw about the Great Depression, and he told me the woods in the Northeast were stripped bare of game by the masses of the unemployed.

          If TSHTF, don’t count on hunting to feed you unless you are really out in the sticks.

  9. Found out from an inside source, that my local Wally World was getting shipments of .22 each week, but it was getting snapped up right off the truck by the local pawn shops.

    • I work for Walmart as my store’s unloader/backroom supervisor, and our ammo is comes off the truck between 2-4pm, is checked into the secure cage by 9, and hits the shelf by 8am the next morning. We generally get about 1k rounds of .22 per week. Store employees are not allowed to buy ammo before then, nor can we hold it back for buddies. Doing so will cost someone their job.
      However… there are a couple guys who have figured out which days our ammo most often comes in. They camp at the sporting-goods counter in the morning, and wait for the department manager to bring out the ammo, and often bring along a couple friends/relatives to beat the per-customer limits. They then re-bag it, mark it up, and resell it to the local pawn shops or flea-markets. They don’t work for said pawn shops and we know what they’re doing, but we can’t deny sales just because we don’t agree with it.

  10. RETURN of the drought? When did it end? It never ended in my neck of the woods. Even online, recently, bulk .22LR is scarce. When I get an email alert from Midway USA for bulk .22, even when I go to the site within MINUTES, the entire stock is sold out. Every. Time.

    Fortunately, I don’t “need” any .22LR. I stocked up before the Sandy Hook-induced frenzy. That frenzy has not abated. I hear about some parts of the country having it in stock at Wally World. Not at my Wally World… not since late 2012. Not a drop of it. Ever. My LGS had some, a couple of months ago, at stupid high prices… 10¢ / round for bulk Remington crap. Pass.

  11. The drought is still in full force for me. None of the local Walmarts have had any 22lr. A local gunshop has had some CCI for $.086/rd. I have been lucky with several online purchases.

  12. You ARE drinking the Kool-Aid. The GOP has lots of problems, but in terms of gun rights a simple perusal of the voting records of state and federal legislators would show you how wrong you are

  13. Walmart is NOT a good metric. The same set of a dozen guys has been at my three local walmarts before opening on the days they get .22 lr deliveries for near two years. Either they have a family member with access to distribution dates or know to slip someone a bit of cash and know when it is coming. I have bought plenty at gander, dicks, cabelas, and other stores at random times. Walmart holds all stock that arrives during the day and puts it out in the morning only and is uniquely susceptible to small groups of hoarders/resellers

    • Sure it is. Before SH, I could buy all the 500-rd boxes of Federal Champion I wanted for $19 / box. Always in stock. Since SH, it’s not there anymore. Ever.

    • Same at our Academy and Gander Mountain here in town. I overheard a gun counter employee at Academy complaining to his manager about it; apparently the same 5-6 old guys come in every day and buy their limit until the store is out of stock for the week.

      I asked and the limit is 1000 rounds….so if they’re doing that 3-4 days a week until the store is out of stock and there’s 5-6 of them that’s 20k rounds per week to this one group of old guys.

  14. FFS, if demand hasn’t dropped it’s time to increase production. If Ford did it like this there would still only be a handful of us driving model Ts. And he would explain that he worried people were reselling them for higher prices while his customers threw up their hands and bought a chevy. Seriously, the AR craze ultimately DECREASED the price of 556, how the hell can we have 40 million new guns and 22 is pricey as ever?

  15. I haven’t shot a .22 in so long I’ve forgotten what it’s like. Does it kick a lot? Is the noise unbearable? Muzzle flash blinding?

  16. Got two 300 round boxes of CCI this morning at Big 5 for 10 cents a round and a $10 gift card. Not bad for the times.

  17. Wal-Mart is hardly representative of the market as a whole. They put out new stock on a relatively fixed schedule, and they never raised their prices, so they’re always the first stop for the reseller creeps who get there at 6 AM and buy their limit each day (not to mention Wal-Mart’s own employees snatching it up). Secondly, Wal-Mart probably has contracts with the ammo makers or distributors to buy the ammo at a rock-bottom price. That’s how they do business. The suppliers can get a better price selling to local stores or big-box sporting good stores, so they’re probably only providing the bare minimum of stock to Wal-Mart, and selling the rest at better margins.

    I’ve only bought .22 from Wal-Mart once since 2013, but almost every other store in town has it (or did, before the big Black Friday shopping weekend, anyway). All the Academy stores have it, Cabela’s has it, LGSes all have it. It’s a little pricier than Wal-Mart at those places, but that was always the case.

  18. I made a random stop at cabelas. They had just finished stocking the shelves with .22 and .22 mag. I bought my allotted 1,200 rounds of each.
    The local BiMart usually has .22lr, .22 short and .22 mag at almost old prices.

  19. I haven’t had any problems finding 22lr for five or six cents a round, for the last several weeks. That remains true as of today. And I haven’t spent a penny at Walmart in more than two years.

    Also, how freaking hard is it to get “you’re” and “your” correct? For God’s sake.

  20. 22LR drought never ended. Been in place since 2013. Bare shelves are the norm at walmarts. And the few stashes that are released at other stores on black friday are snatched up very quickly.

    To all those who scoffed at and disrespected the 22LR in all the past decades, this is your punishment.

  21. The one LGS I’ll actually go into has trouble even getting .22lr that isn’t terrible buckets. Of the other two, one I simply won’t go in (remember folks, customer service is important), and the other has their .22lr priced above 15 cents a round. As for Walmart? Forget it, the same 3 old guys show up at 430am when the trucks come in and buy it all.

  22. What’s this .22RL you speak of? Wait it’s .22LR? Is this a magical thing, like unicorns?

    I haven’t seen .22LR since I bought 4 525rd boxes of Blazer for $14.99 in Nov. 2012. Not one round. I look everywhere but I figure it’s some huge fat welfare recipient and his 20 adult age kids that sits down in a lawn chair every morning in front of all the stores that carry it so they can buy it all up. He then pours it in a bowl with a splash of milk and starts wolfing it down. How else do you get that fat?

    I know what’s going on. .22LR doesn’t have the margins that 9mm, .45ACP, .223/5.56 have so that gets made first. Not enough money to be had making .22LR so they focused on the stuff that pays better. That is the cold hard truth. Any exec that tells you different is full of it. If they wanted to sell more .22LR they’d have made more, as specially by now. A few years ago they went with “Well look here, we’re not sure the market will support it”. What the hell is their excuse now?

    Here’s the conversation those companies are having right now “Can you believe how much 9mm and .223 we’re selling by not making more .22LR? We should have done this years ago! Those diamond guys know what they’re doing!”. So all you guys that have decided to buy 9mm or .223 (not you reloaders by the way, smart bunch that you are) are also part of the problem.

    Flame on if you will, but you have to admit to having a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that I might be right.

    • Bullets, primers and powder for us reloaders are made by most of the same folks that make loaded ammo so we really aren’t any better off.

    • Not trying to flame, but let’s not forget that the rimfire ammo is produced on different machines than the centerfire stuff. I could believe factories can switch from .40 to 9 if it brings them more businesses or profits. But they can’t make 9s on .22 machines.
      They likely run 24/7 and still can’t keep up with demand. And investing millions in new .22 production lines with low profits and therefore slow return of investment just doesn’t seem to be prudent even in this .22 bubble.
      I’m more curious why we don’t see more importers picking up the slack. Yes, some Sellier & Bellot and Armscore here and there, but that’s it.

    • Obama and Clinton didn’t want to ban guns, just limit magazine capacity and more intensive background checks. Everyone at my gun club is OK with both.

  23. I haven’t seen Tula 7.62×39 at wally world in months. They have been getting Tula pistol ammo, but my .22LR replacement, Tula 7.62×39, has been nowhere to be found. They were selling it for mid $5. The PX sells for about the same price but they only allow 2 boxes per day.

  24. Pfft. I can count with one hand the times I’ve seen 22LR ammo at local Wallyworlds the past 3 years.

    When (and if) the bottom falls out of the 22LR market, I hope it deep ***BEEP*** the old fart duck-dynasty-wanna-be’s that I keep seeing at Wallyworkd hoarding 22LR ammo to resell at gun shows. ***BEEP*** jerkwads.

    But I’m not bitter. 😉

  25. My spreadsheet shows me that in 2014 I bought 8 different types of 22LR totaling 11K rounds for an average cost of 7.1 cents/rd. Decided to slow down once I got >10K.

    Not a single round from Walmart.

  26. The lack of .22 at the WalMart near me is so consistent that I don’t go in the store anymore. If I want to see exotic creatures I’ll go to the zoo.

    The two LGS I go to usually have a supply but it isn’t cheap.

  27. Obama will double down on gun control, after the holidays. He’s gunning for the UN job.

    I’m going to 9mm for plinking/practice for home defense handgun.

    Saving the .22LR I have for barter and hunting small game if needed.

  28. My advice on .22 is this: If you have a sufficient amount of .22, don’t buy anymore unless you get it for a good price or need it to fit a specific purpose. If you want to plink, then buy the cheapest stuff you can find, but if you’re saving it for really bad times, then you should look at adding some subsonic ammunition like CCI Quiet, CCI SubSonic, CCI Suppressor, or, if your gun can shoot it, Aguila SSS.

    If you don’t have a stockpile of at least 1000 rounds, then you should be buying. CCI is best, if you can get a brick of Velocitor for less than $60 buy it and stock up on mini mags. If you can only get your hands on CCI standard velocity, that’s fine, it’s accurate stuff.

    If you can’t find CCI, then Federal, Aguila, and Winchester are okay substitutes; Aguila makes some good, but rare stuff like Interceptor and Supermaximum while pretty much any Winchester Super X is good.

    Below them is Remington. I strongly advise to stay away from Remington rimfire ammo. Anything except Yellow Jacket is not good and suspect to fail.

    The question I’m sure that some ask is: how much .22 do I need or how much should I get? The answer is whatever amount you feel most comfortable with, but remember, there’s only so much you can carry and if something goes wrong with your .22 gun that makes it unable to shoot you’re gonna have a lot of ammo that’s not able to do much.

    • Agree with the standard velocity (subsonic) stuff. Those are the hardest to find. The Gemtech bricks are probably the rarest unicorns (custom produced by CCI also). Remington subsonics are actually very good quality hollow points… too bad they’re nonexistent now also.

  29. I’m in the Knoxville TN area and I have no problem finding 22lr. It’s not at Wal-Mart but who cares? I don’t understand everybody’s fascination with buying from Wal-Mart. Most of the local gun stores have it for around 7 cents a round out the door. Maybe 8 cents if you want copper jacked. The CCI mini-mags are still a little bit high at around 13 cents around but I don’t shoot a lot of them so it doesn’t bother me. I know that is not the sub 5 cents everybody seems to want, but it is what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I remember buying 100 round bricks for 5 bucks but that was over 5 years ago. I would love to see it again but I think the new standard is 8 cents a round. Also just looking around at some online sellers I found it for around 8 cents delivered. Take the time to shop around and don’t bother with Wal-Mart.

  30. There’s plenty of 22 ammo available…at 10cents a round. Kinda like chain saw and generator pricing after an ice storm.

  31. This is purely an US centric consumers problem… As a guy that live in Europe, there’s absolutely no problem at all to find .22LR. I can go in any gun store that are 30 mn away from my house and buy 5,000, 10,000 or even 20,000 rounds of .22LR if I want (Federal, CCI, Winchester, Remington, Lapua, Eley, Top Shot, SK, any brand you want). No real shortage whatsoever.

    The only time we couldn’t find any .22LR was just after the Obama election when all Americans (hoarders and preppers) were stockpiling ammo… But it has been months already where business is as usual. However, due to the next election, I wouldn’t be surprise that some hoarders and preppers are again stockpiling ammo.

  32. I still haven’t made much of a dent in the two cases (5,000 rounds per) I got from the CMP before Obama’s re-election. 2-3 cents per round for what resembles Thunderbolt but very few misfires. Less than 1 in 100. I’ve filled in since, where possible, with better quality .22 LR, despite being under Andrew Cuomo’s thumb.

    2012 was the year to stock up on ammo and I did. There were just so many deals. I haven’t bought very much since and only when happening upon an irresistible deal.

    Yeah, I’m good.

  33. As many others suggested, the drought never ended. But don’t forget the real possibility that suppliers and sellers have been “saving it” for Black Friday deals. This was discussed last year (and the year before, and the year before, etc.). All the sporting goods stores want to have enough to advertise .22LR at discount rates for this weekend and beyond to entice buyers to the store. So I’m sure they’ve held back some and are only now releasing it. This amplifies the drought conditions and they are sure taking advantage of it.

  34. I can pretty reliably get CCI Standard Velocity at 10 cents/round in south-central MO, but good luck finding anything else. I managed to grab a 300-round case the day I bought my Savage Mk II, and a box for $5 at my favorite pawnshop, but the cheap stuff is almost impossible to find with the exception of the one time I found Remington Thunderbolt for 6 cents/round. No thanks. Most of it seemed to show up at a Fudd-laden gun show a month ago at 11 cents and higher…lol. Nobody bought any that I could see.

  35. One thing is certain .22 ammo is in thin supply! one does question the government role in this as we have an anti American President doing all he can too destroy the US Constitution, Along with all the Alphabet agencies working for him as his Shutzstaffel, also how much collusion is their between Big Business, Retailers and Big business Manufacturers? just to Jack the prices up and triple their profits! or is the EPA and BLM along with the IRS and ATF putting the squeeze on them illegally under the radar problem is our media lack the intestinal fortitude too dig and ask the tough ones but offer Conjecture instead of truth! Semper Fi.

  36. I agree that Walmart is a poor indicator. But this is what happens when you try to suppress the iron law of supply and demand. Happened the same during the ’70s “gas crisis”. Price control created panic, long lines, and a “grey market”. Same here. Walmart should make their retail price rise to the equalization point, and there’ll be ammo in the stores. Put the scalpers out of business. But they are afraid of the inevitable screams of “profiteering”. (See above post.)

  37. Walmart stores in my area of South Carolina have not had .22LR in over 2 years, in fact, they no longer have a place on the ammo shelf for it.
    Bass Pro and Academy had Black Friday sales on Winchester and Federal .22LR and plenty of stock.
    I got one box of 325 Auto Match from BPS for $20. Still too much IMO, but what are you going to do?
    BPS had a full pallet of it behind the counter, half gone in 10 minutes, the time it took me to get into the store at 5AM and back to the Firearm counter.

  38. You say return, but in Southern WI, it’s been 3+ years since I’ve seen any on the shelf, anywhere. Much like Geoff states, many places have removed the shelf tag, or stick it off to the side and fill the shelf space with some other caliber.

    Actually, I take that back. About last Nov. I did find a box of Remington 22 Thunderbolt on the shelf, but the box had been smashed up so badly it was taped back together and they were asking $38.-something for it.

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