For the last three years, store shelves have been empty of .22 ammo more often than not. The lack of rimfire ammo and the high price of the ammo that’s available has negatively impacted recreational shooting. Looking for an update on the Great .22 Ammo Shortage, I spoke to Dan Compton [above] at SHOT. Dan’s Senior Product Line Specialist for Vista Outdoors, which includes CCI and Federal ammunition brands. Here’s what I learned . . .
Over the last year, Vista moved to increase .22 rimfire production to meet the increased demand. Good news, but it will take about a year to implement that decision. Vista gave the green light to the .22 investment based on the belief that the astounding demand for .22 isn’t based on hoarding. The overall market has expanded to include more new shooters, young shooters, women and urban shooters. Dan told me that the style of shooting has changed as well:
“We call it the ‘Call of Duty’ style. Lots of rounds downrange increases demand. The rounds expended per session has gone up. Where people might have shot a 50 round box before, now they shoot a 525 round box, and they don’t stop until it is empty.”
That’s not to say hoarding hasn’t been a major factor in the drought. Vista says there are about 50 to 80 million .22 owners in the U.S. When a few million owners decided they want to keep a few bricks of .22 on hand, the resulting demand increased well beyond what production could handle.
Dan was a little vague about actual numbers for the company’s planned production. Industry sources assured me that both Federal and CCI were looking to increase production by about 20 percent this coming year. One source said that CCI needed to put up a new building for the production facility.
I also heard that CCI is currently maxed out, producing about four million rounds per day. Federal is also running at peak capacity, cranking out about eight million rounds a day. That said, daily production varies depending on what sort of rounds are being produced.
Managers set up the production schedule about two months in advance based on orders. For example, .22 Stingers might be run for two eight-hour shifts, followed by a single eight-hour shift of .22 quiet rounds. The machines keep running 24 hours a day, stopping for 15 minute intervals at lunch breaks and between shifts, for maintenance.
CCI and Federal dominate the U.S. market. A 20% increase in production will have an impact. Well, should have a major impact. Much of the .22 bubble is political in nature. The ongoing increase in new shooters and changes in shooting style will keep the machines producing .22 ammunition busy for a long time. We shall see what happens in the stores.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.